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Author Archives: Micro Tronics

  1. Design Tips for Durable Rubber-to-Metal Bonding

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    Design Tips for Durable Rubber-to-Metal Bonding

    When designing a part that incorporates rubber-to-metal bonding, there are several steps you can take to ensure a strong bonded seal.

    The primary concern with rubber-to-metal bonding is the design of the rubber itself. Improperly designed rubber components will pull away from the metal part over time. Our goal is to ensure a lasting bond between the two pieces.

    Here we’ll discuss the challenges of rubber-to-metal bonding, reveal Micro-Tronics’ in-house bonding process, and outline our design recommendations for components that require bonding.

    Challenges of Rubber-to-Metal Bonding

    Because rubber and metal don’t expand and contract at the same rate, it’s important to consider thermal cycling when designing a part with rubber-to-metal bonding.

    Much like a pothole forms in the street as the seasons transition from hot to cold, rubber and metal components will begin to separate as the individual components respond to temperature changes.

    This problem is especially apparent when rubber and metal edges butt against one another. As the materials expand and contract, the rubber begins to split. When an assembly vibrates and moves, any cracks in the part’s rubber will expand, propagating from wherever the initial crack began. 

    If a part’s bonded rubber cracks and splits, that damage will eventually lead to part failure.

    7 Critical Design Tips for Rubber-to-Metal Bonding

    Incorporate these tips into your design to ensure a strong, durable bond between rubber and metal components.

    rubber to metal bonding

    1. Avoid right angles

    Designing rubber components with fillets or overhangs helps to distribute stress over a broader area, enhancing the bonded seal and lengthening the part’s lifespan.

    At Micro-Tronics, we’re partial to curved fillets and prefer to avoid right angles altogether. Curved surfaces are better equipped to handle expansion and contraction.

    2. Consider the metal material to be bonded 

    Remember that it isn’t only the rubber that expands and contracts. Metal undergoes thermal cycling, too!

    For example, an aluminum component has much higher thermal expansion and contraction levels than steel. Understanding how your chosen metal responds to temperature will help you determine which design elements to incorporate.

    3. Plan for metal preparation

    Unlike your cookware at home, which you want to be smooth and stick-free, metal that’s meant to be bonded should have a rough surface so that it can support a durable rubber-to-metal bond. You want to form microscopic peaks and valleys that increase the total bonding surface area.

    Micro-Tronics can perform media blasting to modify the bonding surface. Another solution is chemical etching—an especially good choice for high production volumes.

    4. Understand the bonding process 

    Metal components must be clean and rust-free to ensure a strong bonded seal. However, blasting and chemical etching both create exposed metal surfaces. Oxidation will begin within approximately eight hours if the surface has not yet been coated in an adhesive.

    To prevent rust, get your parts fabricated and bonded by the same manufacturing partner. Micro-Tronics will machine your metal components and then bond the seals in one seamless workflow, ensuring immaculate materials that are absent of cutting fluids, oils from handling, or minuscule shards leftover from the machining process.

    5. Select the correct adhesive 

    Not all adhesives are created equal. We’ll gladly make the correct adhesive selection for you, but we will need a clear understanding of the part’s end use and environment to choose an adhesive that can tolerate the assembly’s working temperatures. Micro-Tronics will also align those details with your rubber material’s properties since certain rubber/adhesive combinations are incompatible. 

    6. Account for finishing services

    Consider any finishing your part may require: 

    • Will your part’s metal require a coating, such as anodizing, powder coating, paint,, or plating?
    • Should the coating take place pre- or post-bonding? Post-bonding coatings can only be applied to certain rubber materials.
    • Will the part require additional finishing on exposed metal edges? 
    • Can that finishing be applied post-bonding? On parts with extremely tight dimensions, post-bonding grinding may impact the rubber as well.

    7. Allow for venting

    If your metal component includes blind corners or blind pockets, it may be necessary to add through-holes to your design that allow air to vent from beneath the rubber material’s bonding surface. 

    Verify Your Design with Micro-Tronics and Ensure Strong Bonded Seals

    We encourage you to bring your design to us for review so we can identify any concerns and collaborate on solutions. Our team will ensure that every design detail is accounted for so that we can guarantee high-quality parts with durable rubber-to-metal bonding.

    To get started, request a quote today!

  2. Molding Fluorosilicone Grommets and Interfacial Seals for Aerospace and Beyond

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    Molding Fluorosilicone Grommets and Interfacial Seals for Aerospace and Beyond

    As experts in custom elastomer molding, we have extensive experience working with a vast array of rubber molding materials. Our premium capabilities are crucial for aerospace parts, which often have complex features and require exceptional environmental properties.

    Want a prime example of how Micro-Tronics leverages custom molds, premium materials, and proprietary techniques to craft critical elastomer products to perfection? Look no further than the aerospace-bound electrical connectors we regularly manufacture. 

    Grommets and Interfacial Seals for Electrical Connectors

    Electrical connectors—electromechanical devices that join electronic circuits—need insulators to prevent unwanted conductivity. Grommets and interfacial seals, custom-molded from rubber, provide necessary insulation for wires and pins.

    Choosing a high-performing material for high above the Earth

    Many industries incorporate elastomer insulators into their electrical connectors, but the most stringent insulation requirements are found in assemblies destined for aerospace applications. To achieve the mission-focused (and possibly life-preserving) potential of aerospace parts, Micro-Tronics custom molds the necessary grommets and interfacial seals out of fluorosilicone.

    Grommets and Interfacial Seals

    Fluorosilicone and silicone have similar stability and compression set resistance in extreme temperatures. However, fluorosilicone uniquely embodies trifluoropropyl groups that provide enhanced chemical resistance.

    The long-lasting elastomer boasts outstanding heat resistance and thermal properties, with a standard service temperature range of -80° to 400° Fahrenheit and a brittle point of -85° Fahrenheit. Though fluorosilicone’s flame resistance isn’t exceptionally high, its other environmental resistance qualities are impressive, as is the material’s fluid resistance (with the exception of polar solvents). 

    Fluorosilicone’s superior properties make it today’s gold standard for elastomer products. And at 5x the price of regular silicone, the material’s proverbial middle name may as well be “gold.” Outside the high-risk aerospace industry, insulative materials such as silicone, black rubber, neoprene, and other elastomers are viable, cost-effective alternatives.

    Mold-making for fluorosilicone grommets and interfacial seals

    Before making fluorosilicone grommets and interfacial seals, Micro-Tronics must make molds for both parts.

    Generally, this step isn’t overly complicated. However, making molds for these particular grommets and interfacial seals is deceptively challenging due to the dense population of tiny pins that are needed to form these parts. It can get quite crammed in the mold with all those little features!

    Done correctly, the resulting mold’s pin and wire holes feature complex inner geometries, ensuring minuscule ridges for guiding the pins into place and tight seals around the pin exit points. Both grommets and seals must hold critical tolerances to ensure the closely adjacent pins don’t dislodge from their target placements. 

    It’s not uncommon for an electrical connector to comprise 100 pins within a one-inch diameter assembly space. Some connectors hold pins with unusual dimensions, such as hourglass shapes, further elevating their complexity.

    Proprietary part marking for elastomer products

    Micro-Tronics appreciates the value of part marking for inventory and ordering purposes. But part marking is uniquely important when assemblers must accurately thread dozens of miniature pins and pin wires through specifically assigned holes.

    Using a proprietary laser marking process, Micro-Tronics lifts microscopic black or white markings to the surface of each grommet and interfacial seal. This ink-free process creates zero waste while establishing permanent marks that will not wear away and are solvent-resistant.

    Trust Micro-Tronics for Your High-Precision Rubber Components

    When you need custom precision parts, Micro-Tronics can make rubber molds and products to even the most exacting specifications. Whether your components call for rubber injection, compression, or transfer molding, our team will meticulously craft your elastomer products using the appropriate AMS, ASTM, MIL, and FDA-certified material.

    Request a quote to begin your next rubber molding project with us!

  3. How to Get Mechanical Assemblies to Market Faster

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    How to Get Mechanical Assemblies to Market Faster

    When you have a new product, you want to get it to market quickly. Several factors can impact a new product launch, however. One fundamental way to minimize product launch delays and get your mechanical assemblies to market faster? Consolidate your supply chain.

    Fewer Vendors, Fewer Hassles

    When managing your own supply chain, you tend to rely on multiple vendors for procurement, machining, and assembly. But when multiple vendors are involved, you can easily find yourself in a “too many cooks in the kitchen” situation: multiple touchpoints lead to oversights, errors, miscommunications, and an end product that is not what you ordered.

    Your solution is to cut back on those touchpoints and trust the complete process to a single vendor. 

    Here at Micro-Tronics, we offer multi-level mechanical assembly and sub-assembly services. Our fastening methods include riveting, swaging, and RTV bonding. We also provide verification testing to your specifications.  

    In other words, we can procure or make your components, complete the assembly, verify that it’s in working order, and deliver it to you. 

    Not convinced? Here are our answers to the two questions we hear most often:

    “Can’t I save money by managing the supply chain myself?”

    Let’s revisit our cooking analogy.

    If you send five world-class chefs through a kitchen, one at a time, and tell them to season the soup on the stove, they’ll each add their signature spice to the pot. Each chef is a master of flavor, but if you put all their ingredients into one pot, the soup will be ruined.

    What does this have to do with mechanical assemblies?

    The components are the spices. The assembly is the soup. And just as too many cooks will ruin the broth, too many vendors may render an assembly useless.

    When Micro-Tronics handles your assembly from start to finish, we take full responsibility for its success. We ensure the components fit, the stacked tolerances align, and the assembly works as it should.

    “Can’t I build the assembly myself?”

    Pictured here, you see the unassembled components alongside the completed assembly.

    Which would you rather receive?

    Assemblies can be incredibly time-consuming. At Micro-Tronics, we produce a large number of pneumatic valve assemblies, typically composed of approximately 10 different components, which we make to spec in-house:

    1. The custom-molded rubber diaphragm, made of rubber and fabric
    2. A two-piece housing for which we machine the casting mating surfaces and add bolt holes
    3. Fasteners, which may be standard or custom-machined depending on your needs
    4. Linkages that connect the actuator in the housing
    5. The cup that the diaphragm surrounds
    6. Connecting rods for the cup
    7. A backing plate, which we adhere onto the diaphragm seal

    When our customer receives the completed valve assembly, the only remaining step is to fasten the linkage to their auxiliary power unit’s actuator and place screws through the bolt-hole pattern to mount it on the APU properly.

    So which would you prefer? A pile of components from various vendors with differing standards? Or a completed assembly that’s ready for immediate installation?

    We hear you, and we agree.

    6 Benefits of Using a Single Vendor for Mechanical Assemblies

    1. Serious cost savings

    There’s nothing quite so costly as remaking parts due to manufacturing errors or stack tolerance confusion, and those errors are much more likely when you’re procuring components from multiple sources. 

    Utilizing a single vendor ensures that your parts are made to spec and the final assembly functions correctly. And if there is a problem, that one vendor—in this case, Micro-Tronics—can quickly implement a solution that won’t cost you anything.

    2. Shorter lead times

    Every manufacturer has their own lead times and operating costs, all of which add up to a longer wait until you know whether your assembly works. 

    Micro-Tronics can provide you with a single lead time quote that accounts for each process step.  Our concurrent oversight and manufacturing can often shave weeks of time off a multi sourced assembly.

    3. Streamlined part approvals

    Depending on the industry your product will serve, you may need to submit your parts for approval. 

    Micro-Tronics proudly serves many customers whose parts undergo a rigorous review by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). To obtain Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) from the FAA, you can submit your individual components or your entire assembly.

    Assembly approval requires the same amount of paperwork and review time as an individual component.

    And with the post-pandemic backlog still in full swing, submitting an assembly is the best use of the PMA inspector’s time—as well as your own.

    4. Repair kits that save you time and money

    We’ll never force you to order an entire assembly if you only need a replacement spring or new washer. For a reasonable “stocking” fee, we offer repair kits stocked with replacement parts that you can inventory for later use.

    5. One point of contact

    Whether we custom-make each of your components in-house or source some of them from one of our partner suppliers, when you work with Micro-Tronics, we’re your single point of contact for everything related to your project. That means one order, one email address, one phone number, one shipment, one tracking number, and one great experience.

    6. Faster time to market

    All of these benefits add up to the best one of all: faster time to market.

    You’ll never be waiting on company A while they confer with company B, who’s trying to reach company C and—oh! Company D is on a two week shutdown. 

    Instead, you’ll receive exactly what you asked for: a sophisticated, top-quality, fully functional mechanical assembly delivered on time at a fair price.

    Trust Your Next Mechanical Assembly to Micro-Tronics

    Don’t wait until your launch plan is in tatters and your product is months behind schedule. Let Micro-Tronics be your full-service project manager and get your product to market quickly, efficiently, and profitably.

    Get a quote today!

  4. How Micro-Tronics Leverages EDM Manufacturing for Unusual Alloys

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    How Micro-Tronics Leverages EDM Manufacturing for Unusual Alloys

    Have you struggled to get machined parts made from unusual alloys such as inconel, tungsten, rhenium and molybdenum?

    Precision machine shops tend to specialize in CNC machining, but some exotic materials require a different, non-contact manufacturing method: electronic discharge machining (EDM)

    At Micro-Tronics, we specialize in both traditional CNC machining and EDM. So when customers bring us materials that are too hard, soft, or brittle for conventional machining, we have the option of getting the job done with our in-house EDM services. 

    Unusual Alloys Pose Challenges to Conventional CNC Machining

    While some materials like Inconel and titanium can be cut using traditional CNC machining, there are challenges to consider. Materials that are exceptionally hard—or even very soft—pose risks during precision machining that can add cost and time to a project. 

    For example, when machining strong and rigid materials, operators must run conventional machines at reduced speeds to mitigate tool wear and breakage. This extra time, plus the anticipated wear on tooling, often contributes to increased costs. 

    In other cases, certain unusual alloys tend to “bite,” creating the risk of the tool “walking” during precision machining and potentially throwing the part out of spec. Softer materials might “smear,” making it difficult to get a sharp, clean cut. 

    The process of EDM manufacturing uses electrical current and an electrode to send said electrical current to the workpiece. In wire EDM, the wire electrode is continuously replenished, eliminating the problem of tooling wear. We can cut parts cleanly, ensuring exceptional accuracy (measured in microns) and a smooth surface finish without impacting costs and lead times. In sinker EDM, we can utilize multiple electrodes if needed to ensure top quality parts throughout a production run.

    7 Unusual Alloys We Machine at Micro-Tronics 

    Here are seven unusual alloys we cut at Micro-Tronics using either our in-house CNC machining or Wire EDM / Sinker EDM services:

    1. Rhenium

    Rhenium is an exceptionally dense material with good ductility and high strength.

    Well-suited for high-temperature applications, it’s a popular choice for aerospace parts, such as exhaust nozzles, turbine blades, engine components, and combustion chambers. 

    The only downside? Rhenium is very expensive.

    2. Molybdenum

    Known as “moly” in the industry, molybdenum is best known for its lubricity and often used as a lubricant additive. It provides a slick feel to surfaces—similar to graphite—without grease or oil. It also has an extremely high melting point.

    Molybdenum is a common additive in alloys. It’s found in Teflon and “moly steel” alloys, which have increased hardness, strength, electrical conductivity, corrosion resistance, and wear resistance.

    3. Inconel

    From the nickel-chromium family, Inconel is resistant to corrosion and oxidation and capable of tolerating extreme environmental conditions. These characteristics make it a prime candidate for underwater applications such as propeller blades and submarine motors.

    Additionally, Inconel’s ability to withstand high temperatures and maintain its strength when heated renders it an excellent match for aerospace applications.

    4. Stainless steel

    From industrial equipment to automotive parts to cooking tools, stainless steel is the second most common material manufactured in precision machine shops. It’s extremely durable and possesses high tensile strength and good corrosion resistance.

    However, when hardened and heat-treated, stainless steel is nearly impossible to machine conventionally. Specialty grades of stainless steel pose a similar challenge. Austenitic steels (the family of stainless steels with high chromium content and nickel) are prone to work hardening, and alloys such as 303, 304, and 316 can experience material build-up.

    5. Copper alloys

    Copper alloys are commonly found in electrical components and medical parts. Boasting high electrical conductivity and corrosion resistance, these alloys also possess high ductility, and toughness, making them difficult to machine with a standard mill or lathe. 

    Beryllium copper is often used for thermal transfer applications due to its ability to withstand high temperatures. However, once airborne, beryllium particulates can be toxic, so a certain degree of expertise is required to machine this material safely. Beryllium copper can also be abrasive to tooling, making it even more challenging to work with.

    6. Titanium

    Commonly found in aerospace applications, titanium alloys have high tensile strengths and superior toughness, even at extreme temperatures. They’re also relatively lightweight for their strength and highly corrosion resistant. 

    However, the properties that make titanium so desirable make it a challenge to machine traditionally. The high tensile strength and low conductivity levels can result in broken tools and ruined parts.

    7. Tungsten

    Tungsten is one of the heaviest materials used in machining and has an exceptionally high melting point (3,410 degrees Celsius). 

    It’s often used as an additive in other alloys or treated with carbides or hard metals to create a material with hardness comparable to a diamond. Common applications include aerospace parts, automobile components, electronic appliances, and products made for construction. 

    Micro-Tronics Has the Experience to Machine Exotic Materials 

    Machining Inconel, tungsten, molybdenum, and other exotic materials requires a breadth of knowledge about the different materials and optimal machining methods. These materials are typically expensive, so it’s important to work with a manufacturing partner who knows what they’re doing.

    At Micro-Tronics, we have 50+ years of CNC machining and EDM manufacturing experience and confidently machine many unusual alloys for our customers. 

    We’ll work with you to identify the best manufacturing process. We may even suggest both CNC machining and EDM services, in which case we can save you significant time and money by keeping your entire project under one roof. Request a quote to work with us!

  5. Could Your Application Benefit from Bonded Plate Seals?

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    Could Your Application Benefit from Bonded Plate Seals?

    Bonded Plate Seals

    The terms composite seals, plate seals, and bonded plate seals are often used to describe the same thing: a component made by chemically bonding an elastomer (rubber) to a metal plate in an optimum sealing geometry. 

    At Micro-Tronics, we offer in-house rubber-to-metal bonding services for metal components with a seal bead, such as seal plates. Typically, but not exclusively, we bond elastomers to machined aluminum to make bonded plate seals.

    Bonded plate seals are durable and long-lasting. They’re a great alternative to o-rings and gaskets. Are they right for your next project? 

    Bonded Plate Seals: An Alternative to O-Rings and Gaskets

    While plate seals serve the same purpose as o-rings and rubber gaskets, they are often a better alternative to both. Standard o-rings, which are practical in many mechanical applications, have to be handled carefully. Because they are simply set in place, o-rings can easily become dislodged or fall out during manufacturing or installation and become damaged causing leakage. Large o-rings are especially unwieldy—imagine trying to place an o-ring on an assembly with a 20-inch diameter! 

    Die-cut rubber gaskets are also risky: they can break down under extreme pressure or if a part experiences too much wear and/or fatigue. If you’re already going through the molding process to make a custom rubber gasket, why not reinforce the gasket and bond it to a metal component? 

    O-rings and gaskets are both more challenging to install than plate seals. Especially at scale, it’s time-consuming and difficult to set these components in place correctly. If they aren’t positioned properly, o-rings and rubber gaskets can get pinched and fail during use. And that means greater liability and more downtime during production or repair and overhaul.

    5 Design Considerations for Bonded Plate Seals

    Bonded plate seals offer more design flexibility than standard o-rings and gaskets. When you think about designing a bonded plate seal, consider these five factors:

    • Material selection. Instead of working with standardized materials, we can formulate elastomer products molded to your custom specifications
    • Customizable shape. Bonded plate seals aren’t restricted to circles of different sizes like o-rings. We can work with customized geometries, including odd shapes.
    • Sealing lip design. In some cases, the sealing surface of a bonded seal plate will look similar to an o-ring. However, we can incorporate features such as a double hump instead of the single hump o-rings provide. Applications that experience higher pressure may require a double hump design feature. Other designs include hemisphere, multilip, labrynth, wave, etc.
    • Mechanical locks. We recommend designing for mechanical locks when applicable for double sided seals. Mechanical locks are essentially webs that run through the metal to connect with and reinforce the bond to the elastomer. For dual-sided bonded plate seals, a mechanical lock provides a backstop for the adhesive, further securing the seal.
    • Seal bead customization. Seal beads must be extremely precise to control the flow of fluids and air within a part, and we can customize seal beads to your project’s unique specifications. We can apply double or even triple beads to meet your requirements. We can also add a depression on either side of the seal bead as needed, a capability that isn’t available for o-rings. 

    Micro-Tronics Makes Bonded Plate Seals In-House 

    Leveraging the principles of vertical integration, Micro-Tronics manufactures high-quality bonded plate seals quickly and cost-effectively.

    Our integrated team of experts can make your bonded seal plates entirely in-house. We’ll work with you on your design and material selection, machine the metal plates, and chemically bond them to the elastomer seals, all under one roof. 

    Part with burr

    Damaged part with burr

    To expedite production, we stock numerous metal and elastomer materials used by a variety of industries, including aerospace and defense. We can even run fluid compatibility tests to confirm your seals are an environmental match. 

    When possible, we prefer to own the entire manufacturing process to ensure bonded plate seals meet our stringent quality standards. Even tiny burrs can jeopardize the functionality of a bonded seal, and we’ve often run into challenges with machined parts that weren’t fully prepared for elastomer seals and assembly. This also accounts for stacked tolerances of metal and elastomer for final part dimensions.

    When we can machine the parts from scratch and own the entire process, we can deliver customers a higher quality product, more consistent outcomes, and a reliable lead time.

    If you’re interested in bonded plate seals for your next application, make sure you enlist an expert to guide you through the manufacturing process. Want to learn more about working with Micro-Tronics? Submit an RFQ to get started, and our team will respond promptly.

  6. Get CNC Machining and EDM Services under One Roof

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    Get CNC Machining and EDM Services under One Roof

    Have you ever needed a part that required both CNC machining and EDM services? 

    Many shops with CNC machining capabilities lack EDM expertise. When they’re working on a part that requires EDM services, they often contact EDM specialists like us to get the job done, adding another link in their customer’s supply chain. Thus increasing the cost and lead times.

    At Micro-Tronics, we’re proud to be a full service precision manufacturer that offers CNC machining and EDM services in-house. When you need both capabilities for your part, working with us allows you to consolidate your supply chain and get maximum value from a manufacturing partnership.

    4 Benefits of Working with a Supplier Who Has CNC Machining and EDM Services under One Roof

    1. Save time and money

    CNC Machining and EDM

    Vertical integration—combining multiple stages of the production process under one roof—saves valuable time and money. Consider these advantages:

    • You have one point of contact, at one shop, with one timeline 
    • You avoid paying double markup for services and overhead
    • You minimize transportation risks, which can delay lead times

    2. Expedite specialty parts 

    Engineers may hesitate to incorporate intricate features in their designs that need secondary operations like EDM. But we encourage you to exercise design freedom. With our diverse range of in-house services, we can bring your vision to life. 

    Recently we worked on a specialty part that required milling, turning, small hole EDM, sinker EDM, and wire EDM manufacturing. By combining our in-house capabilities, we were able to deliver a top-quality part quickly and cost-effectively. 

    3. Use hard materials

    EDM is capable of cutting hard materials that standard CNC machining tools can’t easily cut, such as rhenium and rhenium alloys, Inconel, and hardened stainless steel grades. Many customers come to us for rhenium machining – our proven process and 50+ years of EDM experience are more than equipped to handle this notoriously dense and heavy material. 

    EDM is also useful for cutting heat-treated materials that are common in the aerospace industry. When you work with us, we can mill or turn your part and then use EDM services to add features post-heat treating if necessary.

    4. Master intricate features

    Conventional machining processes aren’t always sufficient in achieving super tight tolerances and creating geometrically complex parts. 

    EDM manufacturing can cut features like square corners, blind pockets, high-aspect ratio holes, and hex-head patterns with extreme precision. Wire EDM is also a great alternative to a solution like broaching that can be time and cost-prohibitive. Wire EDM services require minimal tooling (sometimes none at all) which keeps costs and lead times manageable. 

    Not only can Micro-Tronics offer you CNC machining and EDM services, but our team can also provide sub-assembly and assembly services. Leveraging the principles of vertical integration positions us to be your full-service manufacturing shop. Request a quote to get started today. 

  7. 5 Benefits of In-House Custom Tooling for Rubber Molding

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    5 Benefits of In-House Custom Tooling for Rubber Molding 

    Did you know Micro-Tronics offers in-house custom tooling for rubber molding?

    Our motto is “precision from start to finish,” and it certainly applies to our custom molded rubber capabilities. We leverage our in-house expertise, state-of-the-art equipment, and efficient teamwork to not only manufacture your precision rubber components, but also to create the tooling required for rubber molding. 

    Custom Tooling for Rubber Molding: Our Proprietary Process

    Rubber molding turns uncured rubber (and other elastomer materials) into usable parts and products. It involves placing uncured rubber into a mold (or “tooling”) that is typically made from aluminum or stainless steel. Heat and pressure combine to cure, or vulcanize, the rubber into the final product.

    Custom tooling

    Many rubber molding manufacturers rely on outside vendors to supply the tooling for custom parts, but at Micro-Tronics, we keep the entire job in house. 

    Our dedicated tooling department employs a proprietary process to quickly and accurately create tooling for your rubber parts. While some molds require precision work with our EDM manufacturing services, CNC machining capabilities like milling and turning are the standard manufacturing methods for these projects. We have a specific site and dedicated machines for tooling work, so our tooling department is never competing with other customer projects. 

    Once the tooling is made and delivered to the production team, we can manufacture your custom molded rubber parts at our

     dedicated rubber molding facility.  

    Benefits of In-house Capabilities for Rubber Molding 

    How do our combined in-house capabilities benefit our customers? Here are five ways:

    1. Cost-Effectiveness

    Because we keep the entire job under one roof, using machines we own and materials with which we’re very familiar and have on hand, we don’t need to contract with  an outside molding vendor. That helps keep manufacturing, transportation, and shipping costs down.

    2. Efficiency

    Our dedicated tooling department can keep your project on track and even expedite production by strategically prioritizing and scheduling work on the shop floor. 

    In the past, we’ve been able to deliver parts to customers in a tight timeframe because we had everything we needed on-site—machines, materials, and experts—and we could adjust our schedule easily to meet the project’s deadline. We are not beholden to an outside vendor.

    3. Flexibility

    Making your tooling in-house allows us to be highly flexible when iterations are necessary. 

    Our fully integrated team can move quickly if a mold needs adjustments during the manufacturing process. We can give and incorporate rapid feedback and make tweaks in real-time since we’re all part of the same team. 

    The molder and production team are in constant communication, and all of our departments work together to ensure the parts are correct at every stage of production. 

    We’re also flexible about repairs and replacements. Tooling wears out over time, but we can be proactive about repairing it or making a new mold as needed.

    4. Design expertise  

    Creating the tooling for a rubber mold is a challenging process that requires breadth of knowledge about the part material.

    Rubber is viscous and can be difficult to work with depending on how it flows. It shrinks during the curing  process and is often reinforced with performance fabrics that can make achieving proper rubber flow challenging. . 

    Manufacturing a functioning mold is even more complicated when designing for parts with complex geometries, such as deep-draw rubber diaphragms—our specialty.

    Fortunately, our team has knowledge and experience with rubber and elastomer products and can design tooling for your molds to accommodate shrinkage, viscosity, and intricate geometries.

    5. Scalability

    If you’re scaling your product line and need to produce more parts quickly, we can leverage our multi-cavity tooling capability to help you meet demand. Instead of manufacturing one or two custom molded rubber parts at a time, we can make six, eight, or twelve per machine actuation to scale production.

    We know standard parts don’t always meet your needs, and our team of experienced molders and elastomer manufacturers is here to turn your vision into a reality. 

    If you’re seeking custom molded rubber parts such as diaphragms, gaskets, seals, solid rubber shapes, rubber-to-metal bonded seals, or other parts with unique specifications, we can help by making the tooling and manufacturing the part. 

    Let’s get started on your next project—request a quote today!

  8. 4 Reasons to Use Nomex® for Fabric-Reinforced Diaphragms

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    4 Reasons to Use Nomex® for Fabric-Reinforced Diaphragms

    At Micro-Tronics, we believe in precision from start to finish and deliver top-quality parts built to our customers’ stringent specifications. One highly specialized and niche offering we provide is producing fabric-reinforced elastomer diaphragms. 

    Fabric-reinforced diaphragms ensure the proper transfer of fluid or air. They are carefully designed and constructed barriers that separate one chamber from another in fluid or pneumatic systems (e.g., valves, pumps, meters, regulators, and other control devices).

    Superior parts require premium materials, which is why we use Nomex® to build fabric-reinforced diaphragms for our customers in the aerospace industry.

    Nomex® is a High-Performance Material for Top-Quality Parts

    Are you new to Nomex®? Made by Dupont, Nomex® is a meta-aramid fiber highly suited for applications across the aerospace, automobile, military, and defense industries, as well as first-responder uniforms and protective gear. 

    The proprietary chemical structure of Nomex® fibers delivers heat and flame protection, chemical resistance, electrical insulation, and incredible durability. Because Nomex® is a lightweight material that’s flame and corrosion resistant, it’s an ideal choice for our aerospace customers.

    Let’s look closer at 4 reasons why you’ll want Nomex® for your fabric-reinforced diaphragms.

    4 Reasons to use Nomex® for Fabric-Reinforced Diaphragms 

    1. Versatility.

    Nomex® is leveraged across industries to build coated industrial fabrics, aerospace fabrics, electrical insulation, hot-gas filter bags, protective clothing, and high-temperature hoses. Most of the diaphragms we make are used in pneumatic control valves in aerospace applications.

    2. Heat and cold resistance.

    Fabrics woven with Nomex® fibers have low flammability levels and don’t melt at high temperatures. While the material might look like nylon, nylon will melt at 489 degrees Fahrenheit—at which point Nomex® still has 60% of its original strength. Nomex® can tolerate temperatures up to an incredible 700 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can withstand extremely low temperatures, too. Nomex®’s heat and cold resistance are ideal for aerospace applications that must withstand extreme heat and cold.

    3. Chemical resistance.

    Parts made with Nomex® can stand up to most hydrocarbons and many other organic solvents. Nomex® also has acid resistant properties superior to those in woven nylon fabrics, and its fibers exhibit good resistance to alkalis at room temperature (though they do degrade at high temperatures).

    4. Radiation resistance.

    Nomex® can resist damage from X-rays and beta and gamma radiation much more successfully than a fabric like nylon. 

    If you’re creating a highly engineered, top-of-the-line, premium fabric-reinforced diaphragm, Nomex® is the material you need. It’s highly durable and genuinely the best choice for applications requiring heat, chemical, radiation resistance, and high strength.  

    Our team of experts can manufacture your high performance Nomex diaphragm. We deliver precision, high-quality parts on time and at a fair price. To get started making your fabric-reinforced diaphragms, request a quote today.

  9. Is EDM Right For Your Manufactured Parts?

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    Is EDM Right For Your Manufactured Parts?

    When English scientist Joseph Priestly first noticed how electrical sparks could cut through metal in 1770, he likely never imagined that Electrical Discharge Machining, or EDM, would become a mainstay in the manufacturing world.

    EDM is a non-contact machining method that creates an electrical current between a conductive workpiece and an electrically charged shape or wire composed of a brass, copper, graphite, or tungsten alloy. The spark generated by the electrical current erodes the material, and a non-conductive fluid, such as deionized water or oil, washes away any waste. 

    EDM

    EDM first took off in the 1940s and gained popularity in the 1960s as capabilities increased. Still, most engineers are more familiar with CNC machining and consider EDM a non-conventional manufacturing process. EDM has a reputation for being slower and more expensive than CNC machining.

    However, EDM manufacturing has advanced significantly in recent years, improving cost and efficiency and minimizing recast issues that were previously a concern. 

    What makes a project a good candidate for EDM services? Here’s everything you need to know. 

    Top 4 Factors for Choosing EDM

    1. Geometric requirements

    With EDM, it’s possible to cut precision keyways, hexes, internal splines, shaft pockets and slots, and other unique features without making custom (i.e., expensive and time-consuming) broaches. There are times when only EDM can produce the specific, complex geometric shapes that a part requires.

    Need to cut through curved or angled surfaces? No problem—EDM can navigate virtually any contour, and Micro-Tronics’ talented team members manage varying tapers with exceptional precision. EDM can also handle fragile and thin sections because the wire electrodes never actually contact the workpiece.

    2. Hardened materials

    EDM is an excellent choice when making parts from very hard materials such as tool steel. 

    These materials are difficult to cut using traditional machining methods. They cause significant tooling wear, yielding low-accuracy results and rough finishes. 

    Since EDM uses electrical current, the risks of tooling wear is eliminated entirely. It’s possible to cut through many hard, conductive materials with precision, ease, and speed.

    3. Delicate features and fine finishes

    Intricate designs are easier to render with EDM manufacturing than CNC machining. If your project has delicate features, EDM’s non-contact process eliminates cutting stress and mechanical distortion, resulting in a superior quality part.

    EDM also produces exceptional finish quality. Mirror-like finishes are possible with this process, and with no secondary polishing operations required, customers can save time and money.

    4. Quick turnaround 

    EDM is a great choice if time is of the essence. Since it’s usually a toolless solution requiring minimal setup and programming, we can get your project up and running quickly. 

    At Micro-Tronics, we’ll also help you optimize lead times with quick quoting and leverage our in-house tool room for rapid specialty fixturing and electrodes.

    Now that you know the benefits and capabilities of EDM manufacturing, it’s essential to understand the types of EDM services available. 

    The 3 Types of EDM Services

    1. Wire EDM

    In wire EDM, the electrode is brass wire. Think of it as a “super-precision band saw” that can make through-hole parts. Wire EDM is consistently reliable and can produce burr-free, perfectly straight parts. While a traditional drill can drift, wire EDM doesn’t waver. It’s a great alternative to broaching for short timelines or small-to-medium volume runs.

    At Micro-Tronics, we pride ourselves on our rotary wire EDM services. We can make a wide variety of precise, complex shapes—economically and efficiently—through the “turn and burn” technique. We use the same machine to burn one side of the workpiece, then turn it and burn the next side without changing out the workpiece. This streamlined process saves our customers time and money.

    2.  Sinker EDM

    Sinker EDM traditionally uses a graphite or copper electrode. The electrode itself is made into a specific shape which is then burned into the workpiece to create the part.  

    Primarily used to produce blind cavities, Sinker EDM can create internal splines and keyways with no through-holes.  

    Sinker EDM is the solution when the job requires sharp corners, intricate details, fine finishes, and the machining of undercut surfaces. It’s also ideal for hardened materials, and its non-contact method combined with low-pressure flushing makes it perfect for thin and delicate parts.

    3. Small hole EDM

    If your part requires a deep, tiny hole, you’ll need small hole EDM services. Small hole EDM can manage minuscule diameters (.007” – .25”) and achieve high aspect ratios while cutting perfectly straight into the workpiece. Meeting these dimensional requirements would likely cause CNC machining tools to break or shatter.

    Small hole EDM is fast, accurate, and can handle curves and angles. Small hole EDM also eliminates the need to deburr drilled holes post-machining. 

    What About Recast?

    One last EDM consideration is the issue of recast. If you’ve used EDM services in the past, you may have run into this problem.

    Recast is a thin layer of molten material that can land on top of the workpiece when sparks create a heat-affected zone. It’s undesirable and can make the surface brittle. 

    Working with an expert EDM manufacturer will mitigate this issue. At Micro-Tronics, our state-of-the-art anti-electrolysis power supplies and manufacturing techniques can reduce the recast layer to as little as 2.5μm (0.000098”): essentially zero. We remove the recast layer with processes like extrude honing, lapping, and electropolishing—leaving no cracks. 

    EDM is a great option when projects require delicate details, complex geometric shapes, and tiny, deep holes. If you’re curious about using EDM for your part, we’re happy to help you identify the process that’s best for your project. 

    We have 50+ years of experience delivering large quantities of EDM manufactured products—we’d be thrilled to partner with you on yours. To get started, request a quote today. 

  10. Choosing the Right Elastomer for Your Project

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    Choosing the Right Elastomer for Your Project

    Elastomers

    Elastomer products are everywhere in our modern lives—from the soles of our shoes to the critical sealing surfaces on the aircraft you fly on, elastomers (sometimes referred to as rubber) make the world go round. 

    But despite the prevalence of this viscoelastic polymer, information about it is difficult to find. There are many elastomers to choose from—each with unique properties and price points—which complicates matters even further. Engineers who are new to designing elastomer products may have a hard time making an informed decision about which elastomer to use.

    For instance, if you’re designing a component for an aircraft that flies through sub-zero temperatures but also sits on hot tarmacs in the sun, you’ll need an elastomer for your custom molded rubber seals that can withstand extreme temperatures. If you’re designing a part for a fuel or hydraulic system, you’ll need an oil and fuel resistant elastomer. 

    Even material stiffness varies significantly. Elastomer materials can be stiff and strong like bowling balls, while others are soft and flexible, with a texture more like chewing gum. 

    To help make material selection easier, our team of experts at Micro-Tronics created a resource guide spotlighting 20 common elastomers. Learn the thermal properties, environmental and fluid resistances, and tensile strengths of each one.

    Elastomer Spotlight: Silicone, Nitrile, and Fluoroelastomer

    Silicone: Taking on Extreme Temperatures

    elastomers

    If you’re designing a rubber part that will need to withstand extreme temperatures, silicone could be the best option. With a temperature range spanning -120 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, silicone is great for aerospace parts and transportation vehicles that most function in intense climates. 

    Silicone has outstanding environmental and water resistant properties, and it’s capable of sustaining exposure to UV rays and inclement weather. This material can even handle deep sub-zero temperatures without becoming brittle and breaking. But if you’re on a tight budget, know that silicone isn’t the cheapest option. 

    Nitrile: Outstanding Oil, Fluid, and Wear Resistance 

    elastomer

    If you’re familiar with elastomers, you might know nitrile as NBR or Buna N.

    Today nitrile is commonly used in the transportation and automotive industries because of its outstanding oil, fluid, and wear-resistant properties. Nitrile is particularly good at resisting petroleum-based oils, making it a prime candidate for seals in cars. 

    This material can stand up to industrial applications and it’s more economical than silicone. Keep in mind, however, that the more specialized your project, the more material can get more expensive as the requirements increase. For example, if you need a hydrogenated nitrile that can sustain a wider range of temperatures and has better wear capabilities, your cost may increase upwards into the range of some silicones.

    Fluoroelastomer: An Evolved Product for High-Performance Builds

    Elastomers

    Fluoroelastomer serves many of the same needs as nitrile, but it’s an evolved product and can sustain much higher temperatures. Where nitrile tops out at 250 degrees Fahrenheit, fluoroelastomer can withstand up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. It can also survive in cold climates with brittle points down to  -40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

    This oil- and fuel-resistant material is ideal for high-performance engines in automobiles and a great choice for aerospace product designs. One thing engineers love about fluoroelastomer is that it can be tailored to suit application requirements. We often recommend specialty variants of fluoroelastomer for aerospace customers who need additional low-temperature properties. 

    Whatever you’re creating, there’s an elastomer that will fit your specifications. With 35+ years of experience working with elastomers, our team at Micro-Tronics can help your team identify the best custom molded rubber for your application. 

    To get started, download our guide to see which material will best fit your needs. When you’re ready to request a quote, our experts will be here, ready to help you bring your elastomer product to life.