PLACENTIA, Calif.—Kipe Molds Inc. has unveiled a patented micro injection unit system that can be used to make small liquid injection molded parts.
The company unveiled the patented product commercially at the recent NPE show in Orlando, but it actually has been developing it for about six years, according to Brint Kipe, general manager of the Placentia-based tooling maker.
The MD 125 Micro Injection Unit system can make direct inject, highly repeatable molded silicone parts as small as 0.003 grams and as large as 1 gram, according to the company. Larger size options are available to provide a shot capacity of up to 8 grams.
“Mini-device applications are growing for silicone, particularly in medical and automotive,” said Business Development Manager Dana King. “The new MD 125 has a great price point and is super accurate for small LSR shots.”
The firm originally worked on the micro-deck in conjunction with a medical device firm. But after the potential customer spent more than $1 million on the project, it encountered some financial difficulties and canceled funding, Brint Kipe said. The tooling maker eventually got the go-ahead to finish its portion of the project and offer it elsewhere.
“It can be attached to any injection molding machine,” said Kipe Molds President George Kipe. “It's ideally suited for a smaller platform machine. You can mount it on the side of the mold and inject straight into the mold.”
The new offering opens molding for companies that aren't heavily invested into liquid silicone rubber already, according to Nadine DeMartino, Kipe Molds business analyst. “The barriers are lower than buying a full LSR machine.”
Thus far it is being used by one custom molder, though Brint Kipe wasn't certain what the end use was for the part.
Kipe Molds almost decided against bringing the technology to market, he said. “The reality is, every time we come out with a new product, we have a lot of customers say they will use the technology, then make it in-house. ... I don't want to get this out in the market just to have someone rip it off.”
The original plan was to develop it with the medical device maker, then offer it to key customers it could trust, Brint Kipe said, adding, “The right key customer could buy 50 of those.”
But he said custom molders are driven, and their customers don't want to pay much for tooling. “They'll buy elements of tooling from several companies, then take it and make their own tooling,” he said. “We've seen that happen many times.”