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Computed Tomography Makes Behavior of Silicone Visible

starlim//sterner on measuring technology value in new product development

Thanks to its very special elasticity, silicone has become an everyday item in medicine and industry. However, the behavior of silicone parts under stress is anything but predictable. Therefore, injection-molding specialist starlim//sterner uses a computed tomography measuring machine from Carl Zeiss Industrial Metrology in the development of technical molded parts made of silicone. Looking inside the workpieces quickly shows how the single molded parts need to be optimized to do their jobs reliably over the long haul.

The challenge: looking inside

Thanks to computed tomography, we gain insights into the interior of a product, which would otherwise be impossible. This is the only way we can actually see how the material behaves under real-life conditions, providing us with information for the re-computation and subsequent adaptation," explains Johannes Pichler, R&D Manager at starlim//sterner. How the geometry and combination of materials can affect the product is invisible from the outside and very difficult to plan. In the past, starlim//sterner therefore had to use elaborate – occasionally destructive – methods for quality inspection which considerably prolonged the development process.

Solution: computer tomography for non-contact, non-destructive measurements

starlim//sterner has been using the computer tomograph in product development for two years. Pichler organized scans to compare providers. There were several reasons for deciding in favor of the Metrotom: “We were impressed by the system’s overall coherent and reliable approach. Other positive factors were its ergonomic correctness and the expertise of the product management team. And, of course, the world-famous name Carl Zeiss made the decision even easier,” Pichler sums up. starlim//sterner has had a METROTOM 800 in its own measuring lab since March 2010.

Customer benefit: homogeneously high quality with large quantities

"In the past, we primarily relied on the experience of our product developers and common sense. We can now measure every detail with absolute certainty and reproducibility," says Pichler. In his opinion, the real benefit is not so much the speed of the non-destructive measurement, but in the quality. With production volumes in the hundreds of millions annually at starlim//sterner, defects would have an absolutely devastating effect. “The CT measurement allows us to substantially increase the service life of the products. With the long-term stability of the parts, we increase the total quality of the product and strengthen the brand of our customers," explains the development manager.

About the company

Headquartered in Austria and London, Ontario, Canada, starlim//sterner is one of the world's leading processors of liquid silicone for injection molding. The company manufactures molded parts for the automotive and life sciences industries, and for the sanitary/household and telecommunications industries. The company assumes total responsibility for development and production orders - from the product idea to product design, from the actual tool-making up to fully automated volume production.