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Monthly Archives: October 2014

  • Custom Fabricated Vehicle Parts for the ETS Dune Buggy

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    Philippe Grenier Production Coordinator at Elasto Proxy

    École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), a public engineering school in Montreal, awards the most engineering diplomas in Quebec and is Canada’s third largest engineering school. Founded in 1974, ETS is part of the Université du Québec system and esteemed for its emphasis on cooperative education. Each year, students combine classroom instruction with hands-on experience such as participation in international competitions. In the process, ETS students work with local companies.

    Since 2008, Elasto Proxy has custom-fabricated rubber and plastic parts for student-built vehicles. This year’s project, a yellow dune buggy, took fifth place in a competition among engineering schools from Canada and the United States. Powered by a modified 10-hp Briggs & Stratton snow blower engine, the small two-wheel drive specialty vehicle is capable of achieving speeds of 60 to 70 km/hr. Although the students who visited us didn’t drive quite that fast around our parking lot, the Elasto Proxy employees who tried the dune buggy had a great time, as you can see from these photos on our Facebook page.

    Custom Fabrication with Water Jet Cutting

    Elasto Proxy custom-fabricated two main types of vehicle parts for the Baja ETS dune buggy: HDPE plastic parts for the vehicle’s body, and silicone foam insulation for the engine compartment. Using our water jet cutter, we made fast, clean cuts in a variety of sizes. Unlike die cutting, water jet cutting eliminates tooling costs and creates smooth edges. Water jet cutting is ideal for polymers and elastomers, but also works well with the thermal and acoustic insulation used in engine bays.

    To produce durable plastic parts for the dune buggy’s body, Elasto Proxy cut sheets of yellow HDPE plastic. Known for its large strength-to-weight ratio, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) is a thermoplastic that’s used in products ranging from fuel tanks and pipes to bumpers and ballistic plates. At our custom fabrication facility here in Boisbriand, Quebec, our skilled production team crafted HDPE auto parts such as the fender, roof, scoop, and 7’ x 20” undercarriage component.

    Custom Insulation and Specialty Seals

    Water jet cutting also allowed Elasto Proxy to create a heat insulation barrier from silicone foam sheets. Snow blower engines are designed for cold weather environments, of course, but the powerplant that the ETS students modified generates plenty of heat. Without a thermal barrier, heat from the tuned-up engine could cause the transmission to overheat – and sideline the dune buggy during a race. Silicone, a heat-resistant material with an excellent service life, was the right choice for the heat shield.

    In addition to water jet cutting, Elasto Proxy applied its expertise in cold bonding, a splicing technique that uses a quick-setting adhesive to join precise, angled parts without tooling costs. The rubber seal that we cold bonded for the dune buggy’s transmission was produced from an EPDM U-channel. A synthetic elastomer, EPDM offers outstanding heat resistance. EPDM rubber’s resistance to ozone and weather also make it a popular choice for the door, window, trunk, and hood seals used on cars.

    How Can We Help You?

    Do you have questions about compound selection or custom fabricated parts for cars, trucks, military transports, or mobile specialty vehicles such as the ETS dune buggy? For 25 years, Elasto Proxy has been solving sealing and insulation challenges in a variety of industries. By listening to all of your application requirements and analyzing all of your needs, our solutions providers can help.

    Please contact us for more information, or join the conversation on our social media channels. Look for a post with a link to this blog entry on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Elasto Proxy has a YouTube channel, too. Finally, please subscribe to our free e-newsletters. They’re a great source of information delivered right to your email inbox, and they provide links to blog entries like this one.

  • FDA Approved Silicone Sponge for Custom-Fabricated Rubber Products

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    John Rye Branch Manager at Elasto Proxy

    Food grade silicones are used in food processing facilities and industrial kitchens to help keep food items from coming into contact with equipment surfaces. Products include non-stick baking molds, pads, and trays; sanitary door seals for refrigerators, freezers, mixers, and ovens; and protective rubber profiles for the sharp edges on stainless steel surfaces such as food prep tables.

    A type of synthetic rubber, silicone is an inert compound that will not react with food products or food ingredients. This flexible, durable synthetic material doesn’t off-gas fumes either. Suitable for high and low service temperatures, silicone seals can be used with both ovens and freezers. Applications for silicone extend beyond the food equipment industry, so suppliers use the term food grade silicones.

    Not all food grade silicones contain the same ingredients, however, and silicone sponge and solid silicone have different material properties. There’s also the matter of meeting standards such as those from the National Sanitary Foundation (NSF) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although the FDA’s regulatory jurisdiction is limited to the United States, FDA standards are used worldwide.

    Food Grade, FDA Compliant, or FDA Approved?

    Many suppliers offer food grade silicones, but some describe their materials as “FDA compliant” or “FDA approved”. Typically, these compounds comply with only the FDA’s extraction requirement, or contain only a subset of ingredients that are FDA approved. In other words, these silicones are food grade, but they’re not fully FDA compliant – and they’re not fully FDA approved.

    What does this matter? In an article entitled Is It Really FDA Approved?, the agency explains how and what it approves. Materials such as silicone, which were once known as indirect food additives, are now called food contact substances (FCS) instead. If an FCS contains multiple additives (as compounds do), then all of the additives must be approved in order for the FCS to be fully-approved.

    Technical buyers also need to understand the FDA’s extraction limit. CFR 21.177.2600 specifies multiple extraction test limits for rubber that comes into contact with food. Using distilled water and n-hexane, suppliers must prove that their rubber does not exceed allowable extractive amounts. Yet meeting this standard alone doesn’t make a food grade silicone fully FDA approved.

    A Silicone Sponge That Fills the Gap

    As an experienced custom fabricator with expertise in compound selection, Elasto Proxy offers sealing solutions that are made from fully FDA approved silicone sponge.  The sheets, rolls, and extrusions that we convert are made from a special silicone compound that meets the FDA’s extraction test, and also contains only FDA-approved additives.

    Food and beverage equipment manufacturers, the pharmaceutical industry, and medical manufacturers now have a new option for meeting application requirements. Moreover, because this fully FDA approved silicone is a sponge, its features include excellent compression set and recovery. This is important not just for door seals, but also with baking mats where food products fall onto a packing line.

    How Can We Help You?

    Do you need help sourcing silicones for sanitary applications? For 25 years, Elasto Proxy has been working with partners in a variety of industries to solve sealing challenges. By listening to all of your requirements and analyzing all of your needs, our solutions providers can recommend silicone seals that are right for your application.

    Please contact us for more information, or join the conversation on our social media channels. Look for a post with a link to this blog entry on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Elasto Proxy has a YouTube channel, too. Finally, please subscribe to our free e-newsletters. They’re a great source of information delivered right to your email inbox, and they provide links to blog entries like this one.

  • Custom Gaskets Speed Production and Reduce Costs

    Custom Gasket Kit

    Doug Sharpe President of Elasto Proxy

    Ready-to-install rubber gasketing speeds production, cuts labor costs, and reduces material waste. As we learned in our recent Make It or Buy It? series, it’s critical to consider custom fabrication in light of your manufacturing overhead (MOH) and opportunity costs. By choosing rubber gaskets that are ready right out-of-the-box, your installers can attach seals quickly, easily, and accurately. By partnering with a custom fabricator who delivers on your needs, you can also strengthen your industrial supply chain.

    As a global supplier of specialty sealing solutions, Elasto Proxy provides bonded gaskets, spliced gaskets, and molded gaskets to a variety of industries. Instead of tightening screws or performing time-consuming cutting operations, production personnel install custom-fabricated components that come pre-cut, labeled, and with a removable plastic liner and pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA). From gasket design and custom fabrication to logistics and shipments, Elasto Proxy supports your company’s operations.

    Gasket Design and Custom Fabrication

    Elasto Proxy helps solve a wide range of sealing challenges. Some partners submit 3D CAD files and ask our sealing specialists to design and extrude custom gaskets. Others save time and money by choosing bonded gaskets, spliced gaskets, and molded gaskets that we keep in stock, and that require more limited custom fabrication. With our fast, efficient water jet cutting capabilities, Elasto Proxy can cut gaskets to size with speed and precision – and without the tooling costs associated with die cutting.

    By keeping hundreds of rubber profiles in stock, Elasto Proxy can also offer quick turn-around times to meet the most demanding prototyping and production schedules. In addition to water jet cutting, our custom fabrication capabilities include film splicing, cold bonding, C-press injection molding, and vulcanizing. If taping is right for your application, our solutions providers may suggest either PSA or HATS, a high-bond tape that adheres well to automotive paints and plastics.

    Logistics and On-Time Shipments

    Elasto Proxy can supply custom-fabricated gaskets in limited quantities at first, and then increase deliveries as production scales-up. With warehouses in Canada and the United States, we can also store your ready-to-ship rubber parts and then send them according to your sales forecast, or on-demand. Just-in-time (JIT) deliveries reduce the amount of goods and materials that you hold in inventory, and support your lean manufacturing efforts.

    Do you need help sourcing custom gaskets? Would you like to learn more about the value of custom fabrication, too? For 25 years, Elasto Proxy has been working with partners in a variety of industries to solve sealing challenges. By listening to all of your requirements and analyzing all of your needs, our solutions providers can recommend sealing solutions that are right for your application.

    How Can We Help You?

    Please contact us for more information, or join the conversation on our social media channels. Look for a post with a link to this blog entry on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Elasto Proxy has a YouTube channel, too. Finally, please subscribe to our free e-newsletters. They’re a great source of information delivered right to your email inbox, and they provide links to blog entries like this one.

  • Make It or Buy It? Part 2: Opportunity Costs

    Can You Find Your Opportunity Costs? Can You Find Your Opportunity Costs?

    Doug Sharpe President of Elasto Proxy

    In Part 1 of this blog series, we considered manufacturing overhead (MOH) costs – and how failing to account for them can cause companies to produce parts in-house even when outsourcing is more cost-effective. By adding these indirect costs to direct labor and direct materials, however, you can capture all of your expenses and make more informed buying decisions. Yet there’s another type of “cost” that doesn’t appear on your general ledger. Ultimately, it’s related to productivity – and quality.

    What are Opportunity Costs?

    Opportunity costs are the loss of a potential gain when you choose one option instead of another. For example, let’s say that your factory has four machines. All can do the same type of work, but the fourth machine can perform some additional, higher-value operations. If you’ve allocated all of your equipment to running lower-profit jobs, you can’t use Machine #4 to complete a higher-profit job that requires its advanced machine functions. The lost profit differential is your opportunity cost.

    Did you know that opportunity costs can apply to personnel, too? For example, let’s say that a welder who normally makes $35/hour is cutting rubber profiles into gaskets, a task that could be performed by an employee who makes $20/hour. Even if the welder didn’t having any welding to do, your opportunity cost is $15/hour, the difference between the higher and lower pay rates. The more time that the welder spends cutting rubber instead of joining metal, the greater your opportunity costs.

    Productivity Meets Quality

    Some readers may argue that it’s better for a welder to cut gaskets than to remain idle. Yet that doesn’t change the fact that the welder’s higher pay rate is now part of the job’s higher overall costs. There’s also the possibility that relying on this welder for gasket cutting means that a second welder must now work overtime (at an even higher rate) because the first welder is unavailable. As skilled as both welders are at metalworking, neither specializes in gasket cutting.

    By contrast, a gasket fabricator’s equipment does all of the work for you – and to your precise specifications every time. If your workers are cutting gaskets by hand, is the quality of work on Monday morning the same as on Wednesday afternoon? Does it vary by shift? Using a template and utility knife to do the job of a water jet cutting machine is just part of the challenge. Even if splicing goes smoothly, the gasket still must be installed.

    By outsourcing gasket fabrication, you can find out-of-the-box sealing solutions that are cut-to-fit and ready-to-install every time. Just remove the gasket from the box and install it on the assembly line. There’s no cutting or splicing involved, and no special training or tooling required.  Workers can install more gaskets per hour, or complete an installation and then perform other duties that add value to your operations. Outsourced, fully-finished gaskets can perform better, too.

    Quality Meets Sales

    Would you buy a new car with a door that didn’t shut securely? If you were in the market for heavy equipment, would you invest in a half-million dollar machine where the gasketing hung off the door frame? First impressions matter – and you may not get a second chance.  If a car’s door doesn’t shut properly, a buyer may discount assertions that the automobile is well-designed. If a gasket is hanging from a door frame, a buyer may doubt claims about low maintenance costs for mobile specialty vehicles.

    Losing the sale isn’t the only way that gasket failure can hurt a company’s bottom line. Let’s say that you’re a manufacturer of food equipment, and one of your customers is a chain with hundreds of stores nationwide. What’s the cost of replacing defective oven seals at every location? If your designers correctly diagnose the problem, do your production personnel have the tools and training to fabricate the replacement seals in-house? Who will do their jobs while they’re busy with re-work?

    Skeptics may claim that buyers don’t pay much attention to door seals, or that gasket failure is unlikely. Remember, however, that opportunity costs are only one part of picture. What do the manufacturing overhead costs that we examined in Part 1 of this blog series tell you? Are you ready to reconsider whether in-house manufacturing is really more cost-effective than outsourcing?

    How Can We Help You?

    Do you need finished gaskets for applications such as automotive, construction, defense, electronics, food equipment, green power, mass transit, medical equipment, or mobile specialty vehicles? For 25 years, Elasto Proxy has been helping partners to solve sealing and insulation problems. From compound selection to seal design and custom fabrication, we’re ready to listen. How can we help you?

    Please contact us for more information, or join the conversation on our social media channels. Look for a post with a link to this blog entry on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Elasto Proxy has a YouTube channel, too. Finally, please subscribe to our free e-newsletters. They’re a great source of information delivered right to your email inbox, and they provide links to blog entries like this one.

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