Leading Contract Manufacturer Grows Silicone Tooling and Molding Operation with Strong Leadership and New Technologies, Eyes Global Expansion
September 27, 2018
Bethel, VT – Global plastic and silicone injection molder and contract manufacturer GW Plastics, Inc. is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its subsidiary, GW Silicones. Founded in 2008 in GW Plastics’ Royalton, Vermont technology campus, GW Silicones has grown into a state-of-the-art operation offering highly-automated Class 8 cleanroom tooling, molding, and assembly.
When GW Plastics made the decision in 2008 to open GW Silicones and offer Liquid Injection Molding (LIM), they knew they needed to be completely committed. GW Plastics invested in the critical expertise and technology that a successful LIM business requires in order to extend their industry-leading design and manufacturing capabilities and seamlessly integrate GW Silicones into their robust technical portfolio. GW Plastics hired two highly-experienced LIM industry veterans, Mark Hammond and Jeff Hazen, to launch GW Silicones and ensure that the new division would meet the high standard of expertise and service GW’s customers expect.
Starting with just one molding machine in GW Plastics’ Process Development Center, Hammond and Hazen quickly grew GW Silicones into a trusted partner supplying market leaders with precision silicone solutions. Since its inception 10 years ago, GW Silicones has completed three expansions, including a Class 8 ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 certified cleanroom. The cleanroom is equipped with all-electric, hybrid and hydraulic machines, giving GW Silicones the ability to match the best machine to each prototype and production molding application. Multiple screw and barrel assemblies for each press allow for the molding of parts from fractions of a gram to larger pound shots, providing an extremely wide range of molding capabilities. In keeping with GW Plastics’ highly-automated manufacturing platform, GW Silicones has incorporated 6-axis robots that operate within the machine envelope, enabling both insert-loading and molded-part extraction.
Building upon their already successful tooling business, GW Plastics realized soon after launching GW Silicones that offering in-house Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) tooling capabilities would maximize efficiency and component quality, as well as improve responsiveness to their customers. Understanding the differences and complexities of silicone versus thermoplastic tooling, Hammond and Hazen developed a robust LSR tooling standard to ensure that very fine details and tight tolerances are maintained for years of trouble-free production.
GW Silicones underwent an extensive global search in order to assemble the most experienced and knowledgeable team possible to grow their tooling capabilities. By hiring and partnering with tool designers who have trained with the best in
the world, GW can bring a level of confidence to their LSR tooling that is virtually unparalleled. In addition to having the right design team, building precision LSR tooling requires advanced technological capabilities, a zero defect culture, and the highest levels of design integrity. In order to accomplish this, GW Silicones has adopted and applied the same standards of excellence that have been established from GW Plastics’ storied reputation as a world-class thermoplastics mold-maker.
Because of their in-house LSR tool design-and-build expertise, GW has been able to continuously offer their customers the option of building high cavitation, fully-automated, tight tolerance LSR molds designed for manufacturing at a lower cost with world-class lead times. GW Plastics has invested millions of dollars into their Tooling Division during the past few years to include more automation and improved technologies, providing additional resources to expand into LSR tooling. “Working closely with our in-house plastics Tool Division has allowed for this type of flexibility, improvement, and growth,” says 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.”
The ability to mold multi-material (thermoplastics and LSR) components such as two-shot, insert, or overmolded parts has become a specific skill of GW Silicones, and one that gives them a particular niche in the molding marketplace. LSR can be used to create complex molded parts with finer detail and tighter tolerances than are often possible with other materials. When molded onto thermoplastic substrates, the resulting multi-material performance options are numerous. Their familiarity with the demands of LSR processing and their knowledge of material properties allows GW Silicones to assist their customers in ways most LSR molders cannot. One such application is a surgical suture pen, for which GW
Plastics and GW Silicones worked together with a leading OEM to redesign and manufacture a multi-material device that performed better for surgeons.
The field of LSR molding is a challenging one. Industry experts recognize there are very few LSR molders capable of manufacturing precision, flashless components and assemblies. Most are equipped to manufacture only the most basic LSR products, not the high precision, close-tolerance, complex LSR applications that require a specialist like GW Silicones. GW Silicones’ customers know that it takes a unique combination of capabilities, expertise, and resources to get the job done quickly, effectively, and successfully the first time.
Having in-house LSR molding and tooling capabilities provides endless benefits to GW Plastics’ customers. “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,” says 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
A veteran in the contract manufacturing and silicone molding industries, John Lenahan has recently joined the GW Silicones team as their Business Development Manager. “GW Silicones stands out from other silicone injection molders. Everyone knows the GW Silicones team and the level of respect they have garnered in the industry,” says Lenahan. “Mark Hammond and Jeff Hazen’s technical expertise has yielded a lot of unique opportunities for GW Silicones. I am thrilled to be part of this world-class team and continue growing GW Silicones.”
What started with humble beginnings has grown into a state-of-the-art, dedicated silicone facility with in-house flashless molding and tooling capability. While GW Silicones supports a number of markets including automotive, its largest market is medical devices and life sciences with an emphasis on a cost-effective combination of thermoplastics and liquid silicone to provide unique solutions not often seen in the marketplace. GW intends to continue their steady growth and is currently evaluating new technologies such as silicone manufacturing at their Mexico and Ireland locations. GW Silicones has brought considerable value to their customers as they continue to add to their growing portfolio of manufacturing capabilities around the globe.
About GW Plastics:
Founded in 1955, GW Plastics has earned a reputation as an industry leader in precision tooling, injection molding, and contract manufacturing serving the world’s most successful companies in the healthcare, automotive safetycritical,
and filtration markets. Specializing in complex injection molded thermoplastic and silicone solutions, GW Plastics excels at close tolerance mold building, precision injection molding, and contract manufacturing. With leading-edge technologies, a Six Sigma quality commitment, and a relentless pursuit of innovation, GW Plastics continues to attract and partner with market leaders who seek consistency of ownership, financial stability, professional leadership, business integrity, a high-tech standardized global manufacturing platform, and a highlytrained and experienced workforce. Headquartered in Bethel, Vermont, the company’s standardized ISO 9001, ISO 13485, ISO/TS 16949, and FDA-registered, 21 CFR Part 820 compliant manufacturing facilities are located in Bethel and Royalton, Vermont; San Antonio, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; Querétaro, Mexico; Dongguan, China; and Sligo, Ireland. GW is a Plastics News’ Processor of the Year and Sustained Excellence award winner.
Global market-leading OEMs trust GW Plastics to deliver their most challenging projects. For more information, please visit their website at www.GWPlastics.com.