|The healthcare industry has proven to be a shot in the arm for silicone injection-molded parts. |
Healthcare dominates the market for silicone materials from Shin-Etsu Silicones of America Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd. in Japan. The material’s innate physical properties make it ideal for modern medical product applications, and Eric Bishop, North American marketing manager, expounded on those properties at a Liquid Silicone Injection Molding Symposium.
When asked “why silicone,” Bishop answered that the material displays broad thermal stability from – 65 degrees F. to 500 degrees F. with additives. He also mentioned that it is electrically and thermally nonconductive, naturally elastomeric, and offers a wide range of hardnesses.
Because silicone is chemically inert, it doesn’t react with blood or pharmaceuticals and can be safely cleaned in a dishwasher, said Bishop. He added that the material is naturally translucent but can be colored for quick identification for medical operating room applications.
Shin-Etsu’s key silicone grades for healthcare include KE1950, KEG2000, KE2090/2095 Select- Hesive, KEG2003 and KE2004 Series. The KE2004 Series combines lowend durometer (5-20: Shore-A) with enhanced physical properties and processing control. Its low-hardness/ high tear strength combination allows manufacturers to achieve a soft feel without sacrificing strength, generating excessive flash, or tearing during demolding. In addition, the company offers an anti-microbial Liquid Injection Molding System (LIMS) product.
Transitioning to the integrated processes of silicone manufacturing for medical components, Bishop pointed out that the LIMS process is a closed-loop, automated system that minimizes the risk of contamination. He further noted that using his company’s Select-Hesive LIMS, multicomponent parts could be molded in a single 2-shot injection process that improves consistency and increases productivity. Also, when proper planning, tooling, and machinery are combined, flash-free molded parts are possible for eliminating the need for post operations.