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Proprietary Solvent Technology Used to Swell Silicone

Mon, 06/20/2011 - 7:27am

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Proprietary Solvent Technology Used to Swell SiliconeMicroCare Medical, a division of MicroCare Corporation that supplies advanced cleaners, carrier fluids, coatings and lubricants to medical device designers, engineers and manufacturers, has announced its new capability agent to swell silicone to address the challenge that design engineers face in joining or assembling molded silicone components with rigid parts and barbed fittings. To address this common design challenge, MicroCare Medical is now providing Swellex™, a swelling agent that is absorbed into the silicone, expanding it to a desired dimension, which then allows easy assembly to the fitting or rigid part. The Swellex™ silicone swelling agent then quickly evaporates, returning the siliconecomponent to its original sizeto create a secure connectionwithout adhesives.

“Silicone is an incredibly desirable material, especially in the medical device industry,” said Thomas Tattersall, executive vice president of MicroCare Medical.“However, the physical properties of silicone can make it a challenge to work with. Our Swellex™ solvent provides an effective and overall low cost solution to that challenge.”

Silicone has a tacky surface that is inherently flexible and does not readily expand without mechanical or chemical help, and because of this, design engineers often find difficulty in attaching silicone tubing with barbed fittings or mating molded silicone parts with complex geometries to rigid plastic parts. For designers, knowing that there is an effective solution to joining silicone to rigid parts means they can be more flexible in their specifications and can design without limitations.

Swelling silicone is a cost-effective option because the entire process is extremely quick and involves almost no “housekeeping.” Other methods, like using oils or alcohol to lubricate the silicone, take much longer because of the time necessary for these lubricants to dry. These methods also tend to be very messy, requiring clean up once the part has been joined, which also adds more time to the entire process.

The Swellex™, silicone swelling agent that MicroCare Medical provides is a newer class of solvent that utilizesproprietary solvent technology that swells silicone more effectively than hexane solvents, and meet today’s strict Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

“Historically, hexane solvents were used to swell silicone, but this class of solvents is extremely aggressive and is subject to environmental air quality regulations” said Jay Tourigny, senior vice president for MicroCare Medical.“We are very proud to be able to offer a solution which has an EPA-designated Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) exempt status and also an ozone depletion potential (ODP) of zero.”

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