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Case Study – Printing on to a silicone hose

Case Study – Printing on to a silicone hose
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Synopsis: Our customer manufactures high performance silicone rubber hoses for the automotive industry. They wanted to add high quality print to a complex shaped hose which was capable of handing extremes of temperature – from -60c to +220c. We looked to adapt existing technology into a completely new application and so we firstly gathered knowledge of the technological capability needed to…
Our customer manufactures high performance silicone rubber hoses for the automotive industry. They wanted to add high quality print to a complex shaped hose which was capable of handing extremes of temperature – from -60c to +220c.
 
We looked to adapt existing technology into a completely new application and so we firstly gathered knowledge of the technological capability needed to…
 
• develop a machine to print on to silicone hoses
• design and develop a print machine able to print on to such a complex shape
• design and develop a machine able to achieve the required print quality using composite inks
 
We faced a number of technical uncertainties in this project, and had to address the facts that the company did not have experience of using the special inks required to adhere to silicone rubber and did not know if the inks would be compatible with their screens.
 
An existing machine – the CP12 - was modified with wooden tooling and used to prove our concept. Following successful trials. More robust, prototype tooling was developed.
 
At the same time we researched suitable inks that would work with the proposed screens and adhere to the silicone. The ink had to be able to withstand oils and petrol.
 
Early issues with slippage of the component during printing, were addressed with modifications to the tooling to ensure a better grip and extensive tests with different inks eventually identified the most suitable.
 
The customer has been successfully using our silicone hose printing machine now for 18 months and is delighted with the results. The screen printing process marks the hoses with 'clip lines' which allow the hose clips to be positioned quickly and accurately, thus improving production speeds. The hoses can also be marked with logos and model numbers for ease of identification.
 

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