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Horses for courses - or in the case of our rugged IoT devices, seals. 🦭

We chose to install this BabyPlast 6/12 vertical LSR injection moulding machine in-house because it will pay itself off in a few designs - here’s why.

Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) is a versatile material that can make robust seals and all sorts of other things. It is quite difficult to mould. You need very tight tolerances because the fluid is very thin, has low viscosity, and will squeeze out any small gap it can find.

Most LSR machines are quite big and generally you need to create a lot of seals in one ‘shot’ (around 50-100). This can lead to quality issues and a high degree of complexity.

That complexity makes the price of moulds very high, and most manufacturers have a minimum order of around 10,000 - 100,000 per production run.

The seals we need to produce are quite small, and a production run might only be 1000 of each. We need about 7 different seal designs for one of our devices.

With each seal quoted around 2-5c each, a minimum order quantity that well exceeds our needs, AND a very pricey mould, of course we compared this with the cost of doing it ourselves!

Our machine is tiny and cost around the same as two large complex moulds from a third-party manufacturer. It can mould 1-10 seals at a time at super high precision. This means higher quality and less rejections, opening the door to the medical industry.

Yes, we have to design and make our own moulds. That’s part of why we chose our DMG MORI CNC machines to give us the best chance of achieving the required tolerances.

We also need someone to run the machine. But this is where the advantages really start.

We get to learn what works and what doesn’t.

We get to machine up new designs which only cost us material and machine time.

We get to continuously improve our designs, making us better for the next job around the corner.

And LSR is really hard to do well, so we will get good at understanding moulding so we can do all sorts of cool stuff in the future!

We will pump out about 500 LED circuit board housing seals in the coming days. Then we will shut the machine down, set up the next mould, and make the next batch of 500 seals for our Cranio Pro devices.

There is method to the madness. At the very minimum we are learning to become better engineers for the same price we would have had to pay for someone to make our seals.


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