BURLINGTON, Wis.—Michael O'Hara believes the market for liquid silicone rubber is strong and will continue to grow.
That's part of the reason why the self-described “multi-faceted” mechanical engineer has launched Sim Lim Technic L.L.C., a manufacturer dedicated to technical support and production of LSR parts for the medical, automotive and industrial markets.
“There is a tangible need that I see opportunities for in LSR—in providing comprehensive, structured, coherent and effective project and production solutions to the more technically challenging aspects of the market and customers' complex part functional requirements,” said O'Hara, who opened the firm's 1,600 sq.-ft. facility in June.
Burlington-based Sim Lim will be geared initially as a technology resource as well as an interim or full production support partner to specific original equipment manufacturers and tiered suppliers. O'Hara said the firm will provide product development support, tooling and automation consultation, cell design, project management, process development, sampling, validation and production of low to medium volume parts.
He said the bulk of investment has been made in the back end of the business, “leveraging the latest Arburg IMM platform and dosing unit technology, which will serve to reinforce the business' commitment to providing solutions to complex challenges.”
His three- to five-year plan involves positioning the company as a high volume contract molding supplier. He is using part-time help as needed now, but he said he expects to add staff next year.
O'Hara, originally from England, said he has worked for most of the last decade in LSR in the U.S. He served as LIM process manager at Quality Synthetic Rubber Inc. in Twinsburg, Ohio, a manufacturer of precision custom molded rubber components including automotive seals. Most recently he was LIM tooling product manager at Moxness Products Inc., which specializes in LSR, high consistency rubber silicone and fluorosilicone at its plant in East Troy, Wis. It also serves the automotive, medical and industrial LSR markets.
“I'm competent from an analytical perspective,” O'Hara said, “having worked in a wide array of industries and roles, from design, project management and process related roles through management, who doesn't mind getting his hands dirty.”
He said LSR technology can be daunting from the outset because of its perceived complexities, particularly in higher volume environments.
“But you learn quickly especially on the processing side, how to differentiate noise, identifying common and special causes, how to identify system reliability,” he said. “You soon become able to distill everything down to the key aspects that typically are of the most influence from a system perspective.
“It soon becomes apparent generally what works and what doesn't, be it tooling, especially high end fully automated cold deck technology, material, machine, processing methodology and general production techniques.”
O'Hara said Sim and Six sigma methodologies are invaluable in solving complex processing problems, as well as Minitab, a statistical analytical program.
He said he is experienced in lean systems and Six Sigma practices, and it “will provide the cornerstones for Sim Lim's operating philosophy.”
With the Midwest a strong base for the LSR market, particularly in medical, O'Hara said his company will focus on serving that market as well automotive.
“I have seen a lot of change in the rubber molding world, especially in automotive in the past few years with a prevalence on quality expectations first and foremost and emphasis on cost and delivery to a slightly lesser extent, but still critical nonetheless,” he said.
“Quality and experience are not mutually exclusive, especially in LSR—an aspect we are well positioned to deliver on,” he said.