Fast-cure silicone complexities in sight - Today's Medical Developments

2022-11-07 19:45:55 By : Mr. Lester Hu

Shin-Etsu silicones and partners demonstrate work-horse KEG-2001-60 LIMS.

Shin-Etsu Silicones of America (SESA: A U.S. subsidiary of Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd., Japan) premiered advanced technical demonstrations in collaboration with industry leading machinery and equipment partners at the 2022 Silicone Expo. The demos featured Shin-Etsu’s fast-cure KEG-2001-60 LIMS (liquid injection molding system) product’s advanced handling and molding properties being run in the production of silicone Wayfarer style sunglasses. Mesin Injection Moulding

Fast-cure silicone complexities in sight - Today's Medical Developments

Shin-Etsu’s KEG-2001-60 is a very fast-cure type LIMS silicone supplied as two, A/B translucent components which are mixed in a 1:1 ratio to ensure easy and accurate blending. The 60 durometer, Shore A hardness product features a viscosity low enough to allow easy pumping through most injection molding systems. Notably, the product features high tear strength, rapid cure time at elevated temperature, and long pot life at room temperature. Beyond the complex sunglass configuration at the demo, the USP class VI certified workhorse product is ideal for typical applications including O-rings, diaphragms, gaskets, medical devices, baby care components, and consumer products.

All eyes were on Shin-Etsu’s KEG-2001-60 as its fast-cure and complex versatility were on display in the daily sunglasses production demos at the 2022 Silicone Expo in conjunction with the following SESA partners:

Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery (Suwanee, Georgia) provided its SE130EV-A all-electric injection molding machine at the center for the collaborative Silicone Expo demo.

The machine, which advances zero-defect molding capabilities, is based on their Japanese plastic machines but has unique features for a LSR configuration that is now available in North America. Noting a push for thermoplastics molding machines to implement more LSR options, Sumitomo’s SE130EV-A has capabilities spanning LSR applications in medical, automotive, connectors, amongst others.

One key feature used from their micro molding techniques in plastics was a positively locking SK screw tip assembly that shuts material off, so it doesn’t backflow along the flights of the screw during the injection process. It effectively turns the end of the screw into a plunger after it’s shot in the material, delivering a very controlled volume of material pushing in every time. This is essential since shot regularities are key for part weight consistency and part density, particularly for a light material like LSR which flows like water at times.

Notably, the SK tip assembly eliminates variation by providing the consistency benefits of a plunger, with additional mixing of the material to get a consistent temperature in a screw type assembly.

The SE130EV-A is one of the most energy efficient, repeatable systems on the market. The key is it’s a direct drive injection unit that takes the servo motor drive shaft, and directly couples it with a ball screw to eliminate gear boxes, belts, and pullies getting in the middle – so there’s no interchange between the

two devices. The result is a fast system with process control that is repeatable and efficient.

According to Tony Marchelletta, Sumitomo’s National Sales Manager, “This is great for micro-molded LSR parts where a fraction of a millimeter means the difference between a good and bad part−particularly with optical grade parts that require precision to maintain their optical integrity.”

Sumitomo’s Regional Sales Manager, Dan Anderson, notes, “We have large German & Japanese facilities, and the SE130EV-A provides the N. American market another LSR option with a simpler, more intuitive architecture.”

The dosing system for the demos was provided by Nexus Elastomer Systems Inc. (Chicago, Illinois) and featured their SERVOMIX X200 machine. Designed for 200-and-20-liter containers, it delivers high productivity, economical, and extremely short cleaning times. With a maximum feeding rate of 1,000cm3/min (depending on viscosity) pulsation free, the X200 pumps the silicone out of the two drums or pails and is fed through two hoses to the compact modular mixing head which is mounted to the injection machine.

Designed for maximum freedom when changing barrels, it offers a fast and safe drum exchange from a 90° angle (on both sides) within five minutes. The X200 also uses SPLITNEX technology for automatic excretion of air from liquid silicone. This guarantees air-free liquid silicone mix dispensed throughout the process to the mold.

It uses a 2-component, 1:1 ratio, 50/50 mix, which adds a third-stream colorant. This is injected into injection machine, then into the mold. It is kept cool, so it doesn’t cure prematurely, then it’s shot into a 350°F mold – where it crosslinks almost instantly.

Notably, the servo-driven pump is a unique custom design that is very accurate for smaller injection molded parts. It goes to the bottom of the pail to maximize silicone use. It also uses a flow meter on the color valve – used for high accuracy with color injected on the part. In effect, it is the most precise flow meter in the industry, measuring down to the nanoliter in accuracy.

According to Mike Flander, Nexus’s new North American technical manager, “It was good to show the customers the immediate cycle data feedback you get per dose at the demo as it was happening live. It shows the menus and how easy of a system it is to use.”

Mike Pelletier, Nexus’s North America sales manager, notes they have been using SESA’s material since 2014 stating, “It’s a good partnership, and the demo of the sunglasses shows the material’s uniqueness with different textures that can be achieved inside the mold. The system ran fully automatic, and the shot size was accurate with no flash being pulled off it. This dosing system makes sure that there is accurate shot volume at the press.” 

Pelletier also mentioned Nexus’s new warehouse facility in St. Michael, Minnesota, that houses spare parts and systems that just opened on July 1, 2022, stating, “With our equipment manufactured in Austria, we can now significantly bypass delivery issues.”

KRI-Color (Sanford, Maine) is a manufacturer of high-quality dispersions for silicones (colorants, chemical additives, organic peroxides, etc.) serving LSR, HCR, and RTV type silicones−essentially, anywhere silicone elastomers are used. Annually, they match and sell thousands of standard and custom colors.

Their product line for colorants used at the demos is specifically designed for use in LSR and is called KRI-Paste. The colorants are easily incorporated into existing formulations, highly concentrated, provide excellent dispersions, and offer tight color tolerances supported by Delta E (CMC).

Their challenge was to customize translucent tint color on the sunglasses in black and green, while adjusting the tint levels so lightness/darkness intensity was achieved. Additionally, eight different tool finishes were used in the complex production. The lenses portion of the sunglasses are more translucent than the frame requiring a higher gloss and mirror finish. The temple pieces required a frost and texture on them.

According to KRI-Color Co-Owner, Tom Manello, “With tint/translucent you must have no particulates in the dispersion as every particle must be broken down to its primary specific particle size. Essentially, it must be perfect−if you miss anything it’s going to show up. In effect, controlling the color on tint is key versus a solid color, requiring more adjustments. We achieved both with SESA’s KEG-2001-60, which is a non-optically clear material but still looks optically clear.”

Industry leading experts in the design and build of inserted flashless molds rubber, LSR, and HCR applications, Roembke Mfg. & Design (Ossian, Indiana) provided the demo mold for the sunglasses. The mold was a standard inserted LSR production mold with a 1-drop cold system on it, on a single drop, one-gate location. Roembke is known as a premiere mold maker that knows how to polish, in this case two surface textures for the sunglasses−polished to get the mirror surface on the lenses, and rough on frames.

Notably, the earpiece handles extended from the frame’s surface, so a special mold was made with a complex tool. Not being a flat 2-plate mold, it had to be five-axis machined out which allowed for achieving tricky contours easily. Additionally, there were two surface finishes that had to be addressed.  First, the earpieces and frames material were bead-blasted with a semi-opaque finish. Second, the lens portion of the mold had a high A2 polish on it so it comes out smooth and clear. 

Adam Shaal, Roembke’s business development manager notes, “Silicones are pretty unique because you can change the texture of the tool and effect the feel and look of the molded part without changing materials. Many would think that it’s two materials, but it’s a single shot! SESA’s silicone perfectly replicates anything in the mold and it’s all about the mold being perfect – if the mold is perfect then the part will be perfect.”

Yushin America Inc. (Cranston, Rhode Island), one of the world’s largest suppliers of robots for the injection molding industry, provided one their newest robots – the RC-SE robot which excels in LSR part removal. Key to this expertise is the optimized design of the main arm and kick frame – ensuring fast, accurate in-mold operations making it possible to work with such difficult part extractions such as the demo sunglasses, maintaining stability while pulling the part from the mold. 

The removal of the LSR part from the mold is typically done by pulling the part from the mold face without the assistance of ejector pins pushing the part off. Design considerations must ensure that the part is retained entirely in one mold half, and usually, some small feature of the part is accessible above the parting line surface to allow for robotic removal. A high degree of accuracy is required for the robot to access this small hard-to-access location.

Many parts with simple undercuts can be easily removed from the mold by the robot. The RC-SE has standard undercut motions that allow up to 3 additional teaching points to be programmed, using the teach pendant to assist in removing parts from the mold without additional mechanical assistance built into the end-of-arm tooling. Servo wrist units with up to 3 axes can be added for even more articulated movements for parts that require a higher degree of manipulation or a peeling motion for removal from the mold surface.

According to Yushin’s National Sales Manager, Chris Parrillo, “Handling complicated take-out and secondary operations is easily accomplished with simple controller teaching of the servo wrist−with no complex programming required. The freedom to change product orientation eliminates the need for multiple pieces of equipment. It also requires no adjustment mechanisms for subsequent processes like vision and dimensional inspection, gate removal or adding part features post-molding like insertion, assembly, or other secondary operations that are sometimes used to facilitate the production process.”

Collaboration According to North American Marketing Manager, Eric Bishop, “Shin-Etsu’s collaboration with our industry leading machinery, equipment, and material partners at the 2022 Silicone Expo demos allowed us to explore what the possibilities are for our fast-cure KEG-2001-60 LIMS product. The advanced handling and molding properties that were run in the production of the silicone Wayfarer style sunglasses stretched the boundaries of the complex configuration. The synergistic effort allowed us to take full advantage of the latest developments in molding equipment and tooling technology.”

October 27, 2022, 12PM ET - Join us for our monthly Manufacturing Lunch + Learn featuring presentations from Mitsui Seiki and HEIDENHAIN.

Hybrid additive machining for repairing diesel impellers - It can be done It's a little known fact but you can perform full adaptive 5-axis machining toolpaths during blade repair applications. Eric Wold, Northeast Regional Sales Manager, Mitsui Seiki USA, will discuss the benefits of automating the blade repair process drawing upon real examples of successful implementation of adaptive tooling based on the current geometry of a given part. Five-axis adaptive machining is feasible using today's technology and blade repair is a good place to start.

How to step into digital manufacturing The digital world of manufacturing consists of 3 industry standard protocols:  OPC UA, Modbus, and MT Connect. These standards make up how we communicate with the machine-tool world. Once you understand what protocol you want to use then you must decide how you want to visualize your data i.e. build your own system or use an existing system. Nowadays everyone has monitoring software to monitor machine tools but it’s how you use the tools inside that help you drill down to make progress. Joseph Pizzoferrato, TNC Product Specialist at HEIDENHAIN will give a brief introduction into the company’s software diagnosis tools as well as explain other tools you can use in the digital world such as the digital twin and remote monitoring to leverage the digital world in your current manufacturing process.

Learn more about the sessions taking place on Thursday, October 27, 2022 at 12PM ET, and make sure you register for this free Manufacturing Lunch + Learn. If you can’t attend, no worries, all registrants will receive a link to the on-demand recordings within 5 business days after the event.

Revolutionary and affordable new hands-on platform to expand global access, inclusion, and inspiration in STEM education – a win for STEM equity.

Just hours before the 2022 FIRST Global Challenge opening ceremonies at the Palexpo, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), in partnership with DEKA Research and Development Corp., unveiled the XRP (Experiential Robotics Platform) a new robotic platform that’s poised to be a game changer for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education pipeline for generations to come.

The XRP robots, still in beta form, are simple, inexpensive, easy to build, and just as programmable as a far more expensive robot. The XRP robots come with built-in educational and software support, and they are designed to operate autonomously, perform basic tasks, navigate on their own, sense distance, and manipulate their environment. Simple, tool-free assembly allows for a quick build and parts can be replaced easily with the use of a 3-D printer. When they come to market next year the 7" x 5", weighing less than 1 lb (17.78cm x 12.7cm, 0.45km) will cost less than $50.

“Robotics has proven to be extremely effective in stimulating interest in broad areas of science and technology across the entire range of student levels from kindergarten through college, but having access to affordable tools and sustainable support systems is often a barrier,” says Winston “Wole” Soboyejo, interim president of WPI. “The XRP was designed and created with that in mind, so more young people from around the world can partake in the exciting activity of building and programming robots. Our world urgently needs more STEM professionals and business leaders with differing experience(s), expertise, questions, and passions to labs and boardroom tables – only then will we be able to create, translate, and deploy new scientific insights and technologies that work for everyone.”

All 185 teams representing 180 nations at this year’s FIRST Global Challenge are given a free XRP to bring back to their home countries. The teams are challenged to share the kits with other schools or organizations who are interested in implementing or expanding robotics programs. With the kits, educators and students also get access to free online courses, created and supported by WPI, on how to build, program, and control the robot, which they can scale up using the same hardware with free software updates.

“We are at a critical time across the world when many of our most pressing problems, such as climate change, can be and need to be addressed by science and technology,” says Dean Kamen, a WPI alumnus and founder of FIRST Global and DEKA, who has been partnering with his alma mater to engage and inspire young STEM enthusiasts for more than 30 years. “The demand for this kind of talent is intense and having a global STEM workforce prepared for the future isn’t just a societal need, it’s good business. It’s also essential for every aspect of life on this planet that we continue to empower and encourage kids by joyfully engaging them in activities like the sport of robotics. This will allow the kids to understand their own potential to use science – and that of science and technology – to solve the world’s great problems.”

The actual idea to distribute an affordable robot kit around the world traces its origins to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when WPI students abruptly switched to remote learning in spring 2020 and FIRST needed to keep competitive robotics teams working together on various entries. Both needed to figure out how to get remote students small, relatively inexpensive robots to work on for hands-on experience. Eventually, WPI incorporated a commercially available robot kit that students could purchase and build at home into its curriculum. A similar version was then used in FIRST robotics competitions – one that was able to use WPILib software, which WPI created for FIRST in 2009. From there, WPI and DEKA Research & Development Corp. continued to work together to create the XRP and help increase the global STEM pipeline with support from an NSF grant through the Engineering For Us All (E4USA) org.

“The XRP will change the paradigm for hands-on robotics education around the world by dramatically reducing cost, expanding use, and enhancing curriculum support for teachers,” says David Rogers, DEKA’s chief development officer, who worked closely with WPI in developing the XRP platform.

Unlike other platforms that require several upgrades to adapt to higher levels of robotics education, the common programming language used in the XRP kits will also allow students to easily transition to more complicated projects.

“We considered every aspect of the design and materials to ensure it could not only function at a high level but remain affordable,” says Brad Miller, former director of the WPI Robotics Resource Center and senior fellow of WPI’s Global STEM Education Initiative. “To have a robot that weighs and costs less than a textbook – so potentially every student in a classroom could have one – was always our guiding light.”

“Being able to see the results of your code executed on a classroom robot is one way of maintaining and really encouraging this excitement and enthusiasm within what can be challenging fields with a number of roadblocks,” says Joe Doiron, director of WPI’s Global Lab and Global STEM Education Initiative.

In the coming months production will increase to provide additional XRPs as needed. In the meantime, WPI is announcing a larger STEM initiative at both the FIRST Global Challenge and XPrize Summit also taking place in Geneva this week. The new Global STEM Education Initiative leverages the university’s expertise and resources to help other countries and underserved schools in the United States provide high-quality, accessible K-12 STEM education. With the programming, activities, and support provided by this initiative, WPI will help educators around the world bring inspiration and possibility to their classrooms.

“If you dream big, even when you have very limited resources, the size of your dreams determines the scope of your impact,” Soboyejo says. “For me, just as important as getting kids excited about STEM, we need to encourage them to dream big and to surround themselves with people that encourage and nurture that dream.”

Don’t miss our October 20, 2022, webinar taking place at 12PM ET. Registration is free and you’ll get your questions answered.

Join Lindsay Mitchell, Life Sciences Polarion Portfolio Development, Siemens Industry Software Inc. and Lawrence Selby for a session on intelligent design control employing a solution developed for GMP Medical Devices. This approach has been developed in conjunction with Industry experts and is being used by several multi-billion-dollar companies to help maintain compliance with FDA Guidance and Regulations. Learn about how the methodology can help you manage and automate your business processes. Then, explore capabilities that enable full and at-your-fingertips traceability for requirements and verification/validation with integrated risk management. Customers have reported a conservative 50% reduction in creating new requirements and a 75% reduction in test creation time through reuse with Polarion.

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IFR presents World Robotics Report 2022: 517,385 new industrial robots installed in 2021 in factories around the world.

The new World Robotics report shows an all-time high of 517,385 new industrial robots installed in 2021 in factories around the world. This represents a growth rate of 31% year-on-year and exceeds the pre-pandemic record of robot installation in 2018 by 22%. Today, the stock of operational robots around the globe hits a new record of about 3.5 million units.”

“The use of robotics and automation is growing at a breathtaking speed,” says Marina Bill, president of the International Federation of Robotics. “Within six years, annual robot installations more than doubled. According to our latest statistics, installations grew strongly in 2021 in all major customer industries, although supply chain disruptions as well as different local or regional headwinds hampered production.”

Asia, Europe, and the Americas – overview Asia remains the world’s largest market for industrial robots. 74% of all newly deployed robots in 2021 were installed in Asia (2020: 70%).

Installations for the region´s largest adopter China grew strongly by 51% with 268,195 units shipped. Every other robot installed globally in 2021 was deployed here. The operational stock broke the 1-million-unit mark (+27%). This high growth rate indicates the rapid speed of robotization in China. 

Japan remained second to China as the largest market for industrial robots. Installations were up 22% in 2021 with 47,182 units. Japan’s operational stock was 393,326 units (+5%) in 2021.

After two years of declining robot installations in all major industries, numbers began growing again in 2021. Japan is the world´s predominant robot manufacturing country: Exports of Japanese industrial robots achieved a new peak level at 186,102 units in 2021.

The Republic of Korea was the fourth largest robot market in terms of annual installations, following the U.S., Japan, and China. Robot installations increased by 2% to 31,083 units in 2021. This followed four years of declining installation figures. The operational stock of robots was computed at 366,227 units (+7%).

Europe Robot installations in Europe were up 24% to 84,302 units in 2021. This represents a new peak. Demand from the automotive industry was steady, while demand from the general industry was up by 51%. Germany, which belongs to the five major robot markets in the world, had a share of 28% of total installations in Europe. Italy followed with 17% and France with 7%.

The number of installed robots in Germany grew by 6% to 23,777 units in 2021. This is the second highest installation count ever recorded, following the peak caused by massive investments from the automotive industry in 2018 (26,723 units). The operational stock of robots was calculated at 245,908 units (+7%) in 2021. Exports of industrial robots from Germany were up 41% to 22,870 units, exceeding the pre-pandemic level.

Italy is the second largest robot market in Europe after Germany. The main growth driver between 2016 and 2021 was the general industry with an annual average growth rate of 8%.

The operational stock of robots was computed at 89,330 units (+14%) in 2021. The 2021 results were driven by catch-up effects and earlier purchases due to a reduction of tax credits in 2022. This created a 65% increase of robot installations to a new record level of 14,083 units in 2021.

The robot market in France ranked third in Europe in 2021 regarding annual installations and operational stock, following Italy and Germany. In 2021, robot installations increased by 11% to 5,945 units. The operational stock of robots in France was calculated at 49,312 units, a 10% increase over the previous year.

In the United Kingdom, industrial robot installations were down by 7% to 2,054 units. The operational stock of robots was calculated at 24,445 units (+6%) in 2021. This is less than a tenth of Germany´s stock. The automotive industry reduced installations by 42% to 507 units in 2021.

The Americas In 2021, 50,712 industrial robots were installed in the Americas, 31% more than in 2020. This is a remarkable recovery from the pandemic dip in 2020 and the second time that robot installations in the Americas exceeded the 50,000-unit mark, with 55,212 units in 2018 setting the benchmark.

New installations in the United States were up by 14% to 34,987 units in 2021. This exceeded the pre-pandemic level of 33,378 units in 2019 but was still considerably lower than the peak level of 40,373 units in 2018. The automotive industry is still by far the number one adopter with 9,782 units installed in 2021. However, demand had been continuously declining for five years (2016-2021). In 2021 installations were down 7% compared to 2020. Installations in the metal and machinery industry surged by 66% to 3,814 units in 2021, putting this industry into second place in terms of robot demand. The plastic and chemical products industry had 3,466 robots (+30%) newly installed in 2021.  The food and beverage industry installed 25% more robots, reaching a new peak level of 3,402 units in 2021. The robotics industry offers hygienic solutions that experienced growing demand during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Outlook Rising energy prices, intermediate product prices and scarcity of electronic components are challenging all branches of the global economy. But order books are full and demand for industrial robots has never been higher. In total, global robot installations are expected to grow by 10% to almost 570,000 units in 2022. The post-pandemic boom experienced in 2021 is expected to fade out in 2022. From 2022 to 2025, average annual growth rates in the medium to upper single-digit range are forecast.

Fast-cure silicone complexities in sight - Today's Medical Developments

Injection Molding Companies Orders for World Robotics 2022 Industrial Robots and Service Robots reports can be placed online.