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treadmill side panel Image: Exothermic

Exothermic Gives High-End Treadmill's Side Panels a Proxima Polish

A pioneer of reaction injection molding, Exothermic chose the durable yet lightweight Proxima material to manufacture the treadmill panels, because the equipment needed to look as good as it performed.

A high-end virtual-reality enhanced treadmill for fitness and physical therapy centers had to look as good it performed. That is how the manufacturer, whose name was not disclosed, ended up knocking on the door of Exothermic Molding.

Exothermic was selected to craft the treadmill’s trapezoid-shaped side panels after prototyping and deciding to go into production. The panels run vertically from the treadmill platform to the arm guards and are approximately four feet tall. That requires a durable, yet lightweight material — and a spectacular finish, said Exothermic. It opted for Proxima, a thermoset resin that Exothermic added to its portfolio earlier this year. Proxima minimizes surface anomalies like pitting and requires less finishing work, according to Paul Steck, Exothermic President.

As reported in PlasticsToday in an article published on April 1, 2020, Proxima is based on Ruthenium catalyst technology patented by Dr. Robert Grubbs, who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for this technology and is a co-founder of Materia Inc., which produces the resins. Specially formulated to address high-performance applications, Proxima thermosets are designed to be alternatives for traditional resins, such as epoxy, vinyl ester, and polyester resins, adaptable to industry-standard manufacturing processes, according to Materia.

“Proxima is exceptionally strong, works at high temperatures, and leaves no sink marks,” added Steck. “Its low viscosity allows for faster processing than conventional resin systems. This results in better mold fill — as well as the ability to use less expensive molds,” explained Steck.

Exothermic Molding uses the reaction injection molding (RIM) process to fabricate parts for various applications including medical devices. Established in 1971, the company claims to be the first in the United States to employ the process.

An early adopter of Proxima, Exothermic recently commissioned the building of a custom machine to process the material. The company’s expertise involves producing shorter runs of highly designed parts with specialty finishes.

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