Technology Forward Content Series

Mission-Critical Molding: Compressing Thermoset Components for Long-Term Effectiveness

When performance is on the line, will your products stand up to extreme temperatures, moisture, corrosion and stress – or will they fall flat? For many products, performance and functionality are dictated by selected material and manufacturing processes. Applications like Aerospace, Defense and Technology, among others, may require a material and process that produces characteristics above and beyond a “traditional” material.

Thermoset compression molding can offer a powerful alternative solution, enabling production of high-strength, dimensionally stable parts with maximal useful life. However, the production process demands niche technology expertise to ensure cost-effectiveness and quality.

Finding a reputable contract manufacturing organization (CMO) to manufacture your thermoset molded components can offer a range of advantages. Read on to learn more.

 

Are thermoset materials right for my product?

When compression molded, thermoset materials can quickly become lightweight, durable parts for high-performance applications. However, these materials present their own challenges in the manufacturing process. For example, once cured, you cannot recycle these materials back into your process, which can increase both cost and waste.

When considering this complex material, it’s important to evaluate which material and process is right for your specific needs, part volumes and price point. Each category of thermoset material offers proven advantages in products required to function in specific environments. These may include:

  • Polyesters, which are often used to meet a balance of needs for cost and performance.
  • Resins such as epoxies, vinyl esters and phenolics can ensure product integrity and performance under harsh conditions.
  • Thermoset composites such as bulk molding compounds (BMC) and sheet molding compounds (SMC) help optimize strength-to-weight ratios, insulation and more.

Selecting the proper material is a critical first step in designing your new product. An experienced contract manufacturer can work alongside your design team to support this process while also delivering insights based in Design for Manufacturability (DFM).

 

What do I need to know about the compression molding process?

Compression molding offers manufacturers little margin for error. The process begins with precision tooling that is compatible with the heat and pressure requirements of specific designs and materials. The compression molding process itself requires particular focus on temperature, material orientation, clamping tonnage, clamping close speed and cycle time.

Just like any other manufacturing process, one size does not fit all. Cycles will vary for every unique material and part design – as leaving the tool closed and under pressure for too much time can cause irreversible defects in your final cured part. The slightest heat variance can hamper the productivity of the process, leading to warping and defects, including the degradation of the polymer links that give thermosets their robust performance properties.

Your molding partner will understand the nuances of the compression molding process. Partnering with an expert who can guide you through it not only drives component quality – it frees your team to develop the next mission-critical innovation.

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Identifying the Right Thermoset Compression Molding CMO Partner

When manufacturing high-performance components with thermoset materials, you need a partner with proven expertise to accelerate your success. Here are five considerations for identifying the right partner for you.

Material Expertise – A CMO with experience in a range of thermosets gives you greater access to the exact material expertise you need to ensure performance. At Beacon MedTech Solutions, we work with a wide range of thermoplastic, thermoset and liquid silicone rubber materials, working with our network of trusted material suppliers to find the solution you need.

Comprehensive Quality – The permanence of thermosetting means that a small error in temperature or cycle time can cause significant defects. Navigating these challenges can feel impossible without the processes and systems in place to meet exact tolerances while minimizing waste and preserving quality. We are an ITAR-registered, ISO 13845:2016 and ISO 9001:2015-certified company with on-site quality and metrology teams that oversee performance from validation through final components.

On-Time Delivery – A partner with competencies across the value chain streamlines product development through cross-team collaboration, knowledge sharing and increased accountability. We support you at each stage of manufacturing thermoset-based products to meet your deadlines and avoid costly delays. Our advanced manufacturing technologies are house within our state-of-the-art, 110,000-sq-ft manufacturing facility, accelerating your ability to launch new products and meet market demand.

Scalability – Experienced manufacturing partners recognize the dynamic nature of product lifecycles. No matter your manufacturing requirements, you need a partner who can offer you customization, quality and scale. Our team is experienced in managing fluctuating volumes and scaling our processes to your needs – without added costs or capacity constraints. To do so, we use advanced manufacturing technologies that help us cost-effectively scale your program.

Supply Chain Reliability – You depend on your supply chain to consistently perform – and your thermoset compression molding partner is no different. The precision needed for these mission-critical components and products requires you to seek specialized, reliable support. Your partner should not only be a dependable partner to you, but it should have its own network for specialized, raw materials, sub-components and more.

Thermoset compression molding is a complex manufacturing process that requires proven expertise and experience. With the right partner, you can maximize the advantages of these advanced materials and technologies to produce products that your customers can rely on.

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Interested in learning more about our manufacturing capabilities and experience with compression molding technologies and thermoset materials? Contact us today to discuss your application requirements.

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