By Gayle Putrich
NEW YORK—As liquid silicone rubber continues to give thermoplastics a run for their money in medical applications, GW Plastics Inc. continues to expand the capabilities of its affiliate, GW Silicones.
Within the past year, GW Silicones successfully has built and qualified multiple complex 32-cavity LSR slide molds in-house, the company based in Bethel, Vt., announced in June at the MD&M East trade show.
“The type of tooling that we're building is not easily readily available. There are a limited amount of people that can really build a high-quality, automatic silicone tool. The fact that we can do it internally really helps streamline the process,” said Mark Hammond, GW Silicones general manager. “The driving force is really supporting the customer and having the control, internally, kind of controlling our destiny from a tooling standpoint vs. relying on external partners.”
GW is not exclusively building all of its own LSR tooling at this point, Hammond said, but having the in-house capability is appealing to customers, particularly with GW Silicones' experienced LSR tooling design team.
“Starting with the right design allows our tool shop to just focus on hitting the numbers on what they need from a cavity stack,” Hammond said. “An investment in good tools up front at the beginning for a project can really pay dividends over the life of a part just based on low quality, high repeatability … we try to approach the silicone very much like GW approaches the plastics side of the business: building good quality tools, monitoring the process closely, automating it in every possible way. It's the right thing to do at the end of the day for the customers.”