GW Silicones Expands Cleanroom Molding to Keep Pace with Growing Medical LSR Business

GW Silicones has announced another expansion, its fourth since 2008. An affiliate of GW Plastics based in Bethel, VT, the company will add 3,000 square feet of cleanroom space capable of housing eight to 10 new injection molding machines. The investment totals approximately $2 million and comes on the heels of a just-completed 30,000-square-foot expansion of GW Plastics’ Manufacturing and Technology Center in Royalton, VT, earlier this year. The additional cleanroom space will serve GW Silicone’s growing liquid silicone rubber business for medical device OEMs.

GW Silicones cleanroom
The 12,000-square-foot Class 8 cleanroom is equipped with all-electric and hybrid molding machines. Image courtesy GW Silicones.

With this new expansion, GW Silicones will operate from a 12,000-square-foot Class 8 cleanroom certified to ISO 9001 and ISO 13485. The cleanroom is equipped with all-electric and hybrid molding machines, giving GW Silicones the ability to tightly control the process and guarantee consistency, the company said in a press release. Multiple screw and barrel assemblies for each press allow for the molding of parts from fractions of a gram to larger pound shots. Six-axis robots operate within the machine envelope, enabling both insert-loading and molded-part extraction.

In addition to its liquid injection molding (LIM) capabilities, GW Silicones also specializes in precision LSR mold making. Because of its in-house LSR tool design and build expertise, GW has been able to continuously offer customers the option of building high cavitation, fully automated, tight tolerance LSR molds. GW Plastics said that it has invested millions of dollars in its tooling division during the past few years, adding automation systems and improving technologies. “Working closely with our in-house thermoplastics Mold Division has allowed for this type of flexibility, improvement, and growth,” said Mark Hammond, GW Silicones General Manager. “There are not many companies who can say that they have the capabilities to build molds like these, and we could not be prouder or more excited for the future.”

GW Silicones has developed particular expertise in molding multi-material—thermoplastics and LSR—components such as two-shot, insert, or over-molded parts. LSR can be used to create complex molded parts with finer detail and tighter tolerances than are often possible with other materials, according to the company. As one example, GW Silicones cited a surgical suture pen, developed in collaboration with parent company GW Plastics and a medical device OEM, that improved performance for surgeons compared with the previous design.

GW Silicones molded LSR
Liquid silicone rubber typically achieves finer detail and tighter tolerances than other materials. Image courtesy GW Silicones.

The breadth of in-house expertise is a core strength of the company. “Everything stems back to our people, technology, and communication. There is no greater benefit than having talented mold designers, program managers, and process engineers all under one roof,” said Brenan Riehl, GW Plastics President and CEO. “Our ability to provide product design assistance early in the development process, combined with world-class, in-house tooling and global production capabilities allows us to offer innovative, high-quality, cost-effective solutions to our customers.”

With the latest LSR expansion, the Manufacturing and Technology Center in Royalton will cover 100,700 square feet of advanced manufacturing space, said the company.

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