It is both interesting and notable to think where UK manufacturer Silicone Engineering have come from and where the company are now in terms of manufacturing machinery and the possibilities for the future. Twenty years ago the company comprised many “small scale” machines churning out short runs, we prided ourselves in being able to squash or pull raw silicone compound into any shape or size the customer wanted, 10 meters here, 20 meters there. Here is a stand out thing;
“Silicone Engineering could not be set aside from any other silicone manufacturers at that time as we were all manufacturing the same products because we all had the same conversion machinery”.
It was easy (and still is) to set up in small industrial premises and start producing extrusions. So with that in mind and in order to get ahead of the competition there were two things that were needed
1. A desire to grow and differentiate ourselves to break away from small time extrusions
2.The money to do so
During May 2002, Silicone Engineering became an independent company, breaking away from Aerospace company Meggitt. Since then the company have advanced ahead of many competitors as investment has taken us from 35mm extruders making 10mm strips to 250mm extruders and calenders making 1.8 meter wide sheet in roll form.
Silicone Engineering’s Manufacturing Capabilities:
The manufacturing facility at Silicone Engineering is split into three distinct sections:
1.Compound preparation and mixing – consisting of various mixers and mills, where many combinations of different additives are blended with raw base rubber to produce the compounds we know under our brands – kSil™, suraSil™, expanSil™, metectSil™ and neutraSil™
2.Vulcanisation machinery – these are the machines that convert the compound into cured strips, tubes and sheeting products that we sell to our customers
3.Secondary Operations – these are additional, added value processes like self adhesive backing (PSA).
Compound Preparation and Mixing – Mill Room:
Silicone Engineering has a significant benefit and advantage over most of our competition, The Mill Room. We have built up, and continue to do so, a substantial unit for mixing and blending of our own bespoke compounds. Approximately 2 million kilograms (4.4m lbs) of compound is produced per annum through our mill room and with capacity to increase this figure it is an enviable amount, a capability that our competitors wish for. The set up gives Silicone Engineering great flexibility and can react rapidly to customer’s needs especially in the compound business, on many occasions we have turned around orders within 24 hours.
Here is a table broadly outlining the capabilities in terms of Mill Room manufacturing machinery.
|1997Producing ~ 300 Tonnes per year||2015 Producing ~ 2,000 Tonnes per year|
|2 x manual Winkworth mixers with 80kg capacitymix time 20 to 30 minutes – sponge silicone||2 x Banbury (intensive) mixers with 50kg capacitymix time 3 to 5 minutes – solid silicone|
|3 x small capacity (20kg) mills – sponge & solids||1 x automatic Winkworth mixer with 350kg capacitymix time 30 to 45 minutes – sponge & solids|
|2 x Barwells||1 x automatic Morton mixer with 200kg capacitymix time 20 to 30 minutes – sponge & solids|
|1 x manual Winkworth mixer with 80kg capacitymix time 20 to 30 minutes – sponge|
|1 x manual winkworth mixer 10kg capacitymix time 20 to 30 minutes – sponge & solids|
|2 x large capacity (150kg-200kg) mills – solids|
|1 x very large capacity (330kg) mill – sponge & solids|
|2 x small capacity (20kg) mills – use sponge & solids|
Even a cursory glance will show you the difference in silicone output since 1997, approximately 6 times. All machinery in the right column are new installations within the past twenty years with most being added as recently as the past 5 to 8 years with more to come in the next two years as the growth continues.
In part II of this blog we will discuss our conversion machinery which transforms compound into our silicone products that many of you will be familiar with.