LANCASTER, N.Y.—When it comes to education, Apple Rubber Products Inc. is taking matters into its own hands.
The firm has launched Apple Rubber Academy, a five-chapter certification course available for free on its website. The program is designed to allow engineers to learn about rubber materials, sealing best practices and quality.
"What we wanted to do is help our customers be more educated about seal design," Materials Manager John Tranquilli said. "There are papers, videos, and you can work through it at your own pace. Basically they go through this, answer questions, pass a final exam and receive a certificate at the end."
He added that the academy can be a tool used for training new employees or for others within the industry to use as a resource. The five chapters are made up of either five papers or four papers and a video. They include: overview of rubber, overview of O-rings, overview of molding, quality control and the different kinds of seals. Each chapter consists of a quiz.
Tranquilli said the program went live in November 2016. It already has provided more traffic to the website and additional exposure. The next step is to add more content to the program, going into more advanced tool design or materials, and beyond that adding different types of certificates for industry-specific tracks.
The firm also hopes to partner with local universities to make the program available to students.
"The typical engineering track offers very little exposure to rubber," Tranquilli said. "Hopefully this is something that could offer up a little more exposure to the industry. We want to get in on the early stages with engineers.
"Now when they come to us, it makes it so much easier because we're on the same page," he added. "A lot of our design problems, some engineers aren't familiar with. Like tolerancing of an O-ring or a rubber part, they're used to tolerance on a metal. It's not the same on a rubber part, this helps them gain a better understanding. It helps us work through designs with our customers."
Apple also has been expanding in the last year, recently adding three more rubber injection machines and at least two more LSR machines to further that side of the business. Tranquilli said the moves bring the firm's totals to about four rubber injection and 20 LSR machines.