Henkel and Engineering Solution Ltd are partnering to supply manufacturing industry with a complete low-pressure moulding service. The scope of this alliance extends from product design consultancy and mould tool manufacture through to prototype and batch production of ready-to-ship assemblies. Beyond this, Engineering Solution can supply all of the elements needed for the customer to transfer production in-house.
The relationship between the two companies has been forged as a result of many years of collaboration. During this time hundreds of manufacturers have substantially improved product reliability and quality thanks to the engineering adhesives know-how of Henkel and the design and application skills of Engineering Solution; the new partnership formalises this teamwork.
Engineering Solution, which is based in Leighton Buzzard, first used Henkel's Macromelt hot melt adhesives on an in-house project to overmould high-voltage cables for its test systems. The wider commercial potential of this product and the process soon became apparent. Now the company's work is solely focussed on low-pressure moulding with Macromelt.
David Morris, Engineering Solution's Managing Director, comments: "Once customers see this technology they come back time and time again. All it takes to improve both product performance and profit margin is a little design creativity, Macromelt and an affordable aluminium mould tool set. Project costs are drastically reduced and lead times cut."
Macromelt moulding is in a class between casting and injection moulding. It is described as non-aggressive, highly cost-effective and fast. As low pressures are involved (typically 2–20Bar), lower-cost mould tools can be employed. And, of course, the technology is highly suitable for encapsulating and enclosing delicate components to provide advanced protection in tough environments. Even surface-mount components and lead-free soldering is safe to process this way.
Fast processing, rapid development
Speed is another major advantage over traditional potting methods. The cycle time for a typical single cavity mould is between 10 and 50 seconds, depending on the shot size. The potential productivity gains of Macromelt low-pressure moulding are therefore considerable. David Morris adds: "Low-pressure moulding can encase, IP seal and add value in one operation. Assemblies can be converted from delicate electronic structures to robust, ready-for-market products in just one or two mould steps."
Macromelt's properties make it suitable for many applications. At melt temperature, it is a strong adhesive and will bond with a broad range of substrates. For Engineering Solution, the greatest demand for its Macromelt low-pressure moulding comes from customers whose product or assembly is of high value and/or carries a high cost of failure. Typical applications are therefore found in the automotive, medical, aerospace, military and security fields.
David Morris explains that while these remain core markets, the scope is widening: "We are handling a lot more diverse data logging devices now, such as animal tags and sensors to provide information for preventative maintenance programmes. Another recent success was a safety-at-sea device which involved two Macromelt applications, both of which were engineered in the space of just three weeks."
There is no doubt that the Macromelt business is certainly booming for Engineering Solution, as the company has just confirmed its best trading performance in 25 years thanks to the technology. Its commitment to low-pressure moulding is clear but this method is also starting to command the attention of those involved in training the design engineers of the future.
David Morris states: "The School of Engineering Design at Brunel University are very enthusiastic about this process and have invited us to give regular presentations to its students."
Follow the link for more information about the Macromelt low-pressure moulding service.