CLEVELAND—Dow Corning Corp. and R.D. Abbott Co. Inc. have teamed to develop a new process for simulation modeling in liquid silicone rubber injection molding.
The two firms showcased this process in a paper at the recent International Elastomer Conference in Cleveland, describing new techniques in measuring reactive viscosity shown to enhance the accuracy of modeling LSR flow in computer simulation software.
“We have been thrilled to work with R.D. Abbott,” said Gabriel Knee, North America market leader for transportation at Dow Corning. “I think both companies work in a very transparent way with each other. I think we treat each other as brothers and sisters. It's just remarkable to work that closely with another company and to go after all of these customers together. I couldn't ask for anything more out of the relationship.”
Rick Ziebell, vice president of technology and innovation management at R.D. Abbott, presented the paper on Oct. 14. The new software has improved reactive modeling techniques to a high degree of accuracy by using reactive rheology data fitted to multi-point data sets. RDA said the new data provides more accurate results.
“These types of pieces of software have inputs and outputs,” Ziebell said. “What we want are accurate outputs. What we want in the simulations of injection molding to use those simulations for cost estimating and defect analysis, and this allows the design engineer up front to predict whether that design is going to give him the economics he needs for success and ensures against any mistakes that could happen in the manufacturing process.”
Ziebell said the firm has performed these simulations on two of Dow Corning's product lines—RBL 9200 and RBL 2004. Any design engineer can go into the database, pull these materials and have an accurate simulation model for any of the 14 grades in each line.
The firms presented jointly at a booth for the Rubber Expo. There, they demonstrated LSR design flow simulations using their Autodesk Moldflow characterization application technology, which generated 3D computer-aided-design simulations. These included data and graphics on shrink rate, pressure lines, and cure temperatures and times.
“The collaboration is very basic in a sense too,” said Scott Kearns, vice president of sales and commercial development at R.D. Abbott. “Many of our team has come from Dow Corning, so we understand the culture and how the company operates. When we left from Dow Corning into R.D. Abbott, it was a very logical transition. We can take the best of Dow Corning and really be a force multiplier to help with development quickly and help get it in front of the customer quickly.”
The firms have an extensive relationship with one another. Ziebell said that Dow Corning brings expertise in the field spanning more than 70 years, with RDA bringing nearly 70 years of rubber industry know-how. He estimated that the combined experience within both organizations exceeds 1,000 years of working directly with silicones.
Ziebell said RDA is a full-service distributor with a toolset that includes a fully functional laboratory. RDA can provide formulation details to customers free of charge without proprietary constraints, full testing to certifications of interest and data under certified laboratory conditions that prove the materials or formulations actually meet the specifications.
The company said its laboratory features internal mixers and mills—including a 40-inch mill for scale-up work—as well as advanced rheometers, a tensometer, a dispergrader and an integrated lab management system from Alpha Technologies Inc. Its technical team specializes in formulation development and optimization, material testing, process engineering assistance, product characterization and technical innovations.
All of those capabilities are very useful to Dow Corning.
“RDA started working with us at an important time for Dow Corning because we were going through some changes like all corporations were,” said Craig S. Gross, senior AETS specialist for silicone elastomers at Dow Corning. “They filled a need that we had to be able to respond to those customers at every level, whether they were small, medium or large. It was at a critical time when a lot of changes were going on in the industry as a whole. For the customer to know that they could get that level of service was important for us to maintain a strong relationship with them.”
Dow Corning serves about 25,000 customers worldwide and is a global manufacturer in silicones and silicon-based technology. The firm offers more than 7,000 products. The Midland, Mich.-based company is a joint venture between Dow Chemical Co. and Corning Inc.
RDA—headquartered in Cerritos, Calif.—is a distributor of rubber products to customers in the North American market. Its products include elastomeric polymers, rubber chemicals, fillers, bonding agents and testing equipment.