Category Archive: Manufacturing Techniques

Liquid Injection Molding: Unveiling the Future of Advanced Manufacturing Techniques

Click to ExpandLiquid Injection Molding

Liquid injection molding, or LIM, is a manufacturing process used to produce intricate parts from liquid silicone rubber (LSR). This technique is favored for its ability to create complex shapes, making it suitable for the automotive, medical, and electronics industries. It also offers advantages such as improved part consistency, reduced waste, and shorter production cycles than traditional molding techniques.

In this blog, we will discuss how LIM revolutionizes the production of silicone rubber parts. We will also examine emerging trends and technologies in the industry.

Capabilities of Liquid Injection Molding

Here are several capabilities of LIM that make it a versatile and cost-effective technique for producing high-quality parts across industries:

Complex Geometry

LIM can produce parts with intricate and complex geometries that are difficult or impossible to achieve with traditional molding techniques. This capability is particularly advantageous for industries requiring sophisticated designs to meet specific performance criteria.

High Production Efficiency

With its ability to produce complex parts in one operation, LIM offers high production efficiency and short cycle times. This enables manufacturers to scale up production runs and meet tight deadlines to meet growing demand effectively.

Over-Molding and Insert Molding

LIM allows for over-molding and insert molding processes, where different materials or components can be encapsulated or bonded in a single operation. This enhances design flexibility and functionality, which enables the creation of multi-material parts with varying properties and functionalities.

Reduced Material Waste

Unlike traditional molding processes that often generate significant material waste, LIM minimizes waste by precisely injecting the required amount of material. This reduces material costs and contributes to a more sustainable manufacturing process.

Tight Tolerances

LIM offers exceptional precision and consistency, allowing manufacturers to achieve tight tolerances in producing parts. This capability is crucial in components with critical dimensional accuracy, such as medical implants, seals, and gaskets.

Emerging Trends and Innovations in LIM Technology

Various trends and innovations are driving advancements in manufacturing capabilities, enabling greater flexibility in the production of silicone rubber parts. Here are some of them:

Additive Manufacturing Integration

There is growing interest in integrating LIM with additive manufacturing technologies like 3D printing. This hybrid approach enables the creation of mold inserts with intricate geometries or conformal cooling channels, improving part quality and production efficiency. Moreover, it facilitates rapid prototyping and iteration of mold designs.

Advanced Simulation and Modeling

Using advanced simulation and modeling software is becoming more prevalent in LIM technology to optimize mold design, material selection, and process parameters. This allows manufacturers to predict and mitigate potential defects or performance issues before production, reducing time and costs associated with trial and error.

Collaborative Robotics

Integrating collaborative robots (cobots) into LIM production lines enhances automation and flexibility in manufacturing operations. Cobots work alongside human operators, performing repetitive or physically demanding tasks like material handling, assembly, and quality inspection. This improves the safety of the work environment by reducing the risk of ergonomic injuries associated with repetitive tasks.

Industry 4.0 Integration

LIM is increasingly integrated into Industry 4.0 frameworks, utilizing sensors, data analytics, and automation to boost process control and monitoring. This enables real-time quality assurance, predictive maintenance, and overall process optimization, leading to higher productivity and lower production costs. It also ensures seamless connectivity and communication between different manufacturing stages.

Multi-Material Molding

One emerging trend is the development of multi-material molding processes, where different material types are combined in a single part. This innovation enables the creation of components with varying properties, such as hardness, elasticity, or color. It also allows for the direct integration of functional features such as embedded sensors or conductive elements into the part.

Partner With ETI for High-Quality Molding Solutions

At ETI, we pride ourselves on being a trusted provider of custom molding solutions and part production services! At the heart of our operations lies our expertise in silicone injection molding, where we excel in precisely creating intricate parts. We also offer die-cutting, transfer molding, and rubber molding, allowing us to meet diverse manufacturing needs.

Reach out to us with any inquiries or to request a quote.

Prototyping vs. Production in Manufacturing

When looking to manufacture any kinds of parts, it’s important to know the differences between prototyping and production. Knowing their main distinctions has the potential to help lower production costs. Elastomer Technologies, Inc. (ETI) specializes in a variety of manufacturing methods to suit various industrial needs, including liquid injection molding, compression molding, transfer molding, and die-cutting.

What Is Prototyping?

In the manufacturing industry, a prototype is a model used to further develop details and functions of the final product. This early model provides proof that a product’s intended aesthetics and functionality are viable. Continually honing the prototype before officially moving into the production phase helps to ensure efficiency, functionality, problem-solving, material feasibility, and quality assurance.

Here are the advantages of a thorough prototyping process:

  • Early identification and repair of design issues
  • Provides a preview and estimates of the ensuing timeline, production costs, and material requirements
  • Determines manufacturing equipment that will be required for production
  • Enables fit and durability testing with end users
  • Fine-tunes final design and function
  • Helps raise funding from investors
Click to ExpandPrototyping vs. Production in Manufacturing

What Is Production/Mass Production in Manufacturing?

Production is any process used to convert raw materials or separate components into finished products or services. Production processes are typically performed with specialized types of machinery.

Mass production is the process of creating large quantities of standard products or components. Mass-produced goods are put together with automation technology or assembly lines. This process is an efficient method of producing a large number of identical products.

Benefits of mass production in manufacturing include:

  • Improved productivity
  • Enhanced uniformity
  • Reduced costs
  • High quality
  • Longer product life
  • Quick production 
  • Minimal risk of human error
  • Better employee safety

Key Differences Between Prototyping and Production in Manufacturing

See this table for a comprehensive breakdown of the main differences between prototyping and production.

Materials Prototypes are often made from less expensive materials. For instance, if an end product is supposed to be made of titanium, the prototype may just be made from white metal, steel, or plastic.  It is important to note that more often it is best to try to duplicate materials used in production.Material is usually very specific. Material waste becomes an important consideration as does material availability. While material costs can go up, they may be recouped by volume purchasing. 

Specific tests for batches of materials may be required to qualify parts.

Processes While a manufacturer will produce the end product, it’s often more cost-effective to outsource the prototype to a prototype specialist, who can save you labor, time, and money.

ETI offers prototyping using compression molding of products.  While this can be an expensive process it can answer a lot of questions regarding material behavior in a molded state that you cannot get from fast turn prototypes.

During the production process, the cost per unit is much lower than with prototyping. However, quality control becomes more critical.  Production quickly becomes less efficient and more expensive if an error is detected after items have already been produced in high quantities.

Production process qualification can become very complex, requiring multiple runs of parts, experiments, IQ, OQ, PQ (installation qualification, operational qualification and performance qualification).

VolumePrototyping is also known as a “dry run,” which is a short production run of experimental products.  Production quantities can be in batches of 50 to hundreds or thousands of products at a time. The total cost per part will vary based on minimum purchases of materials and the cost of material generally, set up costs and cycle time.


Why Work with Elastomer Technologies, Inc.?

For almost 50 years, Elastomer Technologies has been providing customers with high-quality engineered components. We are ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485 certified, which means that we are committed to delivering quality products and services to our clients across every industry. Our team of specialists will maximize your project’s efficiency and cost-effectiveness, providing guidance for every stage of the manufacturing process and even more importantly they are adept at following customer requirements.  For more information about prototyping vs. production or our other capabilities, contact us today.

Click to ExpandPrototyping vs. Production in Manufacturing