A company that manufactures specialized connectors and electronic components for military/defense, aerospace, commercial aviation, and medical device industries suddenly lost its connector seal supplier. The manufacturer called PGC to request a set of custom seals for its components. PGC had to find a solution that met the following conditions:
- Engineered material with extreme temperature fluctuations and chemical resistance.
- Process accurately spaced precise holes for connector pins.
- Pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) to attach two difficult materials together.
During the PGC discovery phase, we investigated several materials that could withstand extreme temperatures and other unknown criteria the space environment demanded. It became clear that fluorosilicone rubber was the ideal material for creating the seals. However, this material was expensive to source and not a stocked material, which could make the prototyping step prohibitively expensive. We also needed to include PSA on one side of the seal to adhere it to the connector. Another challenging aspect of this project was finding a way to process the parts. We could not die-cut the part because the holes were too small and too close to one another for a die. Waterjet cutting the parts could force the adhesive and/or liner material off of the part. Molding the part would involve extremely expensive tooling, if it was possible to get accurate molded parts.
After settling on fluorosilicone as our material, we worked with our suppliers to acquire a small sample of the material we could use during the prototyping phase. While most suppliers don’t keep stock of this material, the strong relationship with our fluorosilicone vendor made it possible to have a small batch made for testing. After eliminating die and waterjet cutting as methods to cut tiny holes into the fluorosilicone, we experimented with our laser cutter. This method produced the uniform holes we desired without affecting the fluorosilicone or the PSA adhesive. Once the customer’s tests proved the prototype connector seal worked, they were able to quickly get the part back into production.
The company was impressed with PGC’s ability to provide a cost-effective solution for this intricate part. They recognized that our vendor relationships allowed us to source a small batch of very expensive material for prototype testing and approval before moving to production orders. Now, we are partnering with this new customer to deliver additional components in their product line.