Globally active contract manufacturer Flextronics, with 200,000 employees and its headquarters in Singapore, has a new weapon to add to its arsenal in the form of a license from RocTool, a small company in France with a big development in heating and cooling technology for injection molds. Flextronics has taken a production license agreement from RocTool to use that company's injection mold heating and cooling technology for the next five years. The license covers the manufacturing of various electronic parts such as electronic tablets, e-book readers, gaming and other electronic accessories.
Flextronics plans to integrate the RocTool technologies into a facility it runs in China, and from there work to further industrialize the process on a larger scale. RocTool's two flagship technologies, Cage System and 3iTech, are both included in this license. Flextronics already uses the RocTool technologies for some production parts at its facility in Zhuhai, China and the coming months will include expansion of those production lines and the industrialization of the process on a larger scale.
RocTool's CAGE system is used for inductive heating of molds, while its 3iTech technology heats molds by electromagnetic induction. As explained in our previous articles on RocTool, its technology facilitates rapid heating and cooling of injection molds, which helps prevent warpage and makes for better surface appearance, among other attributes. The company's molds at first were used exclusively for thermoset composite parts, but in the past few years have increasingly been used by injection molders of thermoplastics, especially in the sporting goods, automotive and consumer electronics industries. Typically no painting is required of the finished products, even if they are highly loaded with reinforcing fibers.
Gerhard Zebe, Flextronics's VP global operation South China mechanical, commented, "Flextronics is using the 'Heat & Cool' technology in several projects that are in mass production and is continuing to investigate into further opportunities involving this technology."
For some of the products already in mass production, Flextronics reports it has been able to eliminate secondary processes like CNC machining by using the RocTool technology, and has achieved much faster molding cycle times compared to conventional molding processes.
Matt Boulanger, RocTool's business development director, commented, "Flextronics is one of the leaders of plastics molding in the electronic industry, they have the capacity to produce parts in mass production and already use "Heat & Cool" technology. Our aim is to continue working together in this direction, with faster cycle times and definitely higher temperatures, in order to be able to present to their customers the innovative way they can mold using high technical materials."