Boldly seeking added value in silicone processing
In an interview, AsMoPLAST CEO Simon Zügel tells his first experiences in LSR processing

Simon Zügel is a bold CEO. In the early 2000s, he ordered molds from China for the first time, then got established in the areas of global moldmaking and injection molding, and since then has been consistently taking advantage of all opportunities to expand the portfolio. Now his company, AsMoPLAST, has gotten into silicone processing, purchased a CX 80 SilcoSet and built the mold for the project on its own. ahead spoke with him about how this came to be.

Text Petra Rehmet  Photos AsMoPLAST

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Thermoplastic injection molders often have hardly any points of contact with LSR (Liquid Silicone Rubber), even though LSR yields excellent growth rates. How did you get into the area?

Simon Zügel

To be honest, that was not on our radar, but I am always interested in offering our customers added value and also like to venture into new areas to do so. So it happened that AsMoPLAST first began with purchasing molds in China, then established its own moldmaking here, added an injection molding department and is now a specialist with locations in Germany and China. Then when a new customer came to us with a silicone project, we decided to get into this technology.  

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Was it immediately clear that you would order the machine from KraussMaffei?

Simon Zügel

We already have machines of the CX and GX series for thermoplastic processing from KraussMaffei, so naturally it stood to reason that we would also inquire about silicone injection molding. What convinced us was the complete package of hardware and software, in other words the application technology. Sebastian Wahl and his team provided us with great support, including when commissioning the CX 80 SilcoSet.

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Did everything work out well?

Simon Zügel

We actually had good parts starting from the first shot, which is really fantastic. Our entire team was, of course, very anxious to see how the process with silicone would work, whether the mold would be leakproof and so on. And then everything ran without a single problem. Except the LSR manufacturer has delivery problems, unfortunately. 

Successful start in LSR processsing
Successful start in LSR processsing
Simon Zügel, Andre Seidich (both AsMoPlast) with Stefan Hartmann, Sebastian Wahl, Ullrich Seidenkranz (all KraussMaffei) in front of the new CX 80-380 SilcoSet with the Elmet LSR metering system TOP 5000 P (from left to right)

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You built the mold on your own, also in China?

Simon Zügel

No, here at our location in Endingen. There are only a handful of providers for silicone molds in Europe, who almost have a monopoly, and they have very high prices. So we simply decided that we would try it ourselves. That is yet another thing that I can offer customers to create added value for them. I am very proud of our team because it worked so well.

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Batch fluctuations with silicones are much more pronounced than with thermoplastics. Do you use APC plus?

Simon Zügel

Yes, we have already been using that on our other machines, and I believe this is what led to the articles being so good right off the bat, particularly when commissioning the silicone machine. It regulates cavity filling from shot to shot and calculates the melt viscosity and material parameters for that. After all, we are really still beginners in the area of silicone, so it is very comforting when the machine can do some of the thinking.      

Good parts starting from the first shot
Good parts starting from the first shot
The machine function APC plus facilitates the entry into LSR processing and ensures high shot weight consistency

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You opted for the hydraulic CX. Wouldn't the all-electric PX have been of interest, too?

Simon Zügel

That was simply a financial decision. With the existing project we have a utilization of about 20 percent. Of course, we would like to fill the remaining capacity with other orders, and I am also very confident in this regard, but at present we are simply not there yet. We would have taken the PX if we had been able to have it running around the clock.

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With a total of 14 employees, AsMoPLAST is not a large company, but in principle you can offer a full-service package, right?

Simon Zügel

Yes, you can say that. We have some customers who primarily use our mold expertise and others who entrust us with the entire project. We purchase molds from China, make some adaptations at our facility, validate and, if necessary, we provide manufacturing capacity. No matter what the scope, it is always top quality.

A look into the production in Endingen
A look into the production in Endingen
From here, AsMoPLAST primarily serves customers in series production, for example for the electrical and furniture industry or household articles

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What quantities do you go up to when accepting projects?

Simon Zügel

I was always concerned that if we got into series production ourselves, then we would become competitors of our customers, which I did not want. It turned out, however, that they were glad when we could cover capacity bottlenecks for them or take over production of articles that they did not want to produce themselves. We have some components for which we produce a couple hundred per year and others for which the figure is a couple hundred thousand.  

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Who are your customers, anyway?

Simon Zügel

For mold procurement, we have many from the automotive sector, but we do not produce for them because in that case the requirements for certifications are too high for our little company. We are active in series production, for example, for the electrical industry, furniture industry and household articles. In those cases our customers are usually large injection molders with more than 40 machines. They regard us as a very reliable partner. 

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Now you will be offering them the silicone technology too, right?

Simon Zügel

Of course. We assume that we will be welcomed with open arms. We have already had inquiries now and then in this area. Currently at our location in Endingen we are building an additional production hall, which we will move into in early 2022. If the LSR area really takes off, then surely we will have to expand even more—and then there will be space for a PX, too.

Contact

Stefan Hartmann
stefan.hartmann@kraussmaffei.com

Regional Sales Manager South Germany