Making the impossible possible

Trelleborg Sealing Solutions manufactures LSR for high-tech products

The Trelleborg Sealing Solutions facility in Stein am Rhein is one of the leading processors of liquid silicone rubber
(PresseBox) ( Stuttgart, )
Tiny precision tooling can produce big results in the life sciences industry. When a membrane in the cap of a medicine bottle weighs just three one-thousandths of a gram, extremely demanding accuracy is crucial through the production of millions of items.

Life science matters to us all - after all, it could be our life that's at stake. And we want to be sure that, if we have to depend on it, we get only the best. The industry, which includes medicine, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and patient care, is one with which we may have a very intimate relationship, often at a time when we need all the protection we can get.

So it's no surprise that the standards for products in the life sciences industry are extremely demanding. It may take years to bring something to market, as validation, approval and adjustment follow discovery and development. And a company like Trelleborg, whose solutions are used extensively in life sciences, has to meet those high demands. Ursula Nollenberger, Product Line Director for Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) Components at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, says there are three main areas in which Trelleborg can offer its expertise on a global basis. "We have design competence, we have manufacturing competence, and we have material competence," she says.

Many of the parts that Trelleborg makes for the life sciences market are very small, and micromolding presents its own challenges. The smallest piece Trelleborg manufactures is a septum, the membrane in the cap of a medicine bottle through which one can insert and withdraw a syringe. This weighs just 0.003 grams and at that size you can hardly pick the part up with standard molding burrs being bigger than the object itself. Manufacturing a micro-component such as this requires extreme accuracy in tool construction, control of shot weight and the molding process. Automatic handling of the product after molding is done by a unique, specially developed robot gripper arm. The process ensures levels of accuracy are maintained reliably for millions of shots.

"We are always pushing the envelope in tool and process design," Nollenberger says. "The global team thrives on developing the tiniest precision tooling, finding ever-newer solutions for the dosage of ever smaller weights and devising new process automation tools to handle and control such small parts. Perhaps as Stein am Rhein is in Switzerland, where there's always been a watchmaking industry, we have a special tradition of dealing with tiny and complex components."
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