RIM (Reaction Injection Molding) for Gatan

Get More Information

Tag Archives: aluminum tooling design

RIM (Reaction Injection Molding) for Gatan

Gatan, Inc. took a very hard look, and applied a very sharp pencil, when analyzing the cost of producing parts in Cast Urethane.  “It was just costing us a fortune…” offers John Duffy, Materials Manager SP&H, Supply Chain, Gatan, Inc.

The decision to use RIM was simple.  The RIM Process provided important values: Unlimited Mold Life, Higher Tolerance, More Robust Parts, and Significantly Lower Cost. When the time came to shift production of the company’s premier parts to the new process, research lead Gatan to Kenilworth, New Jersey, and the expertise of one of the country’s leading RIM manufacturers of first-class plastic instrument housings.

Click here to read more…

JBT Corporation: Replacing Sheet Metal to Maximize Value


Reaction Injection Molding of plastic parts is a quality driven, price alternative compared to many manufacturing processes including sheet metal. With RIM, one can develop a sculpted, structural design that minimizes hardware and includes value-adding features, all at a price point that is cost-effective for low to mid-range volumes, especially for larger complicated parts.   JBT Corporation, the world’s largest supplier of Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) Systems, turned to Exothermic Molding for the tooling and manufacturing of two key housing parts, compartment covers that would afford them both the value, look and finish found in RIM.


Company Overview

JBT Corporation is a leading global supplier of Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) Systems. With over 125 years of experience in materials handling and 25 years’ experience in AGVs, JBT has the corporate strength and experience to make each AGV system a success.  As a key supplier of AGV Systems since 1985, JBT Corporation has delivered over 400 AGV systems including 3,500 AGVs.

The company employs the world’s largest group of Automated
Guided Vehicle experts, each bringing a unique perspective gained from decades of experience.  These AGV experts continually develop the most advanced AGV technology, providing guided vehicle solutions for unique material handling challenges.  JBT’s AGV systems provide safe, unmanned movement of raw materials, work-in-process, finished goods and waste in manufacturing, and storage/retrieval of products in warehousing facilities.  Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) Systems by JBT provide automated material movement for customers in a wide variety of industries including the automotive, chemicals/plastics, hospital, printing, FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods), food & beverage, pharmaceutical, warehousing & distribution, and manufacturing industries.

Changing from Sheet Metal to RIM

cntrblnc wmlegendWhen developing the latest counterbalance AGV design, JBT
wanted to maximize the value delivered to its customers.  It turned to Insync Design to assist with the form and structure of its AGV.  Insync outlined the strengths and weaknesses of multiple fabrication technologies and RIM was chosen for the upper and front covers because of specific benefits that added value to the design and durability of the AGV housing:

“Insync Design Corporation used the RIM Plastic process in the Industrial Design of JBT’s new AGV, because of its durability (in a sometimes hostile environment of material handling), parts consolidation, and the ability to give the overall appearance of the machine a clean contemporary ID, while achieving design lines not achievable, in the old plate and weld process (of sheet metal).”

Stephen Miggels
Insync Design Corp

Insync referred JBT to Exothermic Molding for manufacturing the high-grade RIM molded plastic covers as an alternative to sheet metal. Two plastic RIM covers replaced a large metal cover that was used on the previous design. These plastic covers were an excellent solution for JBT because the modern styling matches the advanced robotic hardware and software technology used on the AGVs. In addition, the cost per piece of the plastic covers was significantly less than the complex, large metal fabricated cover.

Process Comparisons

At first glance, sheet metal looks to be a very low cost option for part production and modification, but this process sacrifices many design features and often adds to part cost.  RIM allows for much more intricate and sophisticated design geometries compared to sheet metal.  Engineers enjoy much greater design freedom to create attractive, sculpted parts. Features on the inner or outer surface of a sheet metal part must be cut out, welded, or bolted on as a secondary process. With RIM these features are molded into the part, reducing assembly, adding value to the overall design, and ultimately lowering unit costs.

An additional benefit worth noting is that materials cannot be encapsulated in sheet metal. Only RIM can encapsulate glass, metal, wood, wiring, circuit boards, and other parts for optimum protection and strength.

Both processes are capable of an excellent finish, however Exothermic Molding takes RIM part finishing to a higher level with superior quality clear-coat “automotive grade” finishes, advanced paint texturing techniques, and multi-color silk screening for improved branding.  Sheet Metal can be more costly to paint, as labor time associated with special masking and treatment of joints exceeds that associated with RIM.

JBot wmlegendAs JBT discovered, the cost of RIM produced parts for their AGV’s is significantly less costly than the large metal fabricated cover.  Sheet metal might be a cost-effective option for small production volumes, but RIM should be taken into consideration if the part design is complex or if there is a long term product life.  RIM molding can incorporate features, such as structural stiffeners and mounting hardware, directly into the mold and the result is less secondary part assembly.  Also, and important for the AGV application, RIM plastic parts serve as an enhanced sound and vibration insulator when compared to sheet metal.  The parts are generally lighter weight and highly corrosion resistant.

JBT continues to test the bounds of imagination with designs that improve a full array of ruggedly built AGV types to meet their customer’s toughest material handling challenges.  The RIM covers have already been incorporated into the latest Tug type AGV design and the covers will be incorporated into future standard vehicle designs.  Exothermic Molding is prepared to meet these rigorous current and future design requirements and deliver vehicle parts that reduce material costs while standing the test of imagination and durability.

Case Study – Solidscape: The Evolution into RIM Casements

The Reaction Injection Molding of plastic parts exceeds Industrial Designers and mechanical engineering expectations as a quality driven, price alternative to many manufacturing processes — the most noteworthy of those methods being Thermoforming.  In an unpublished video interview with Mark Magee, Senior Design Engineer of the visionary 3D printing equipment manufacturer, Solidscape, Inc., a Stratasys company, Mark lends the benefit of his experience working in RIM, and tells how RIM has become the “go to” process when Solidscape manufactures its industry leading printers.

To learn more click here:  Exothermic Molding:  Solidscape Case Study

Exothermic Molding, Inc. Manufacturing Manager Wins Next-Generation Leadership Award.


Caonabo Delgado represents the new face of manufacturing management in the United States as he captures award given as part of the New Jersey Manufacturing Awards 2014 celebration.

Kenilworth, New Jersey – October-2014

Caonabo Delgado, Manufacturing Manager for Reaction Injection Molding Company, Exothermic Molding, was awarded the Next-Generation Leadership Award by NJBIZ for its inaugural New Jersey Manufacturing Awards event  October 2014. The event, held in conjunction with the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, honored producers of innovation including companies and professionals who create products and jobs in the Garden State.

caonabo w/ roamer arm

“I am honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” Delgado said.  “It is seldom that one is acknowledged for the hard work and insights that are part of managing and growing a small manufacturing company.  More importantly, this award sends a message to young talent considering a future career that manufacturing is alive, well and full of potential.”

Manufacturers and business leaders from all over New Jersey joined NJBIZ and NJMEP for the event as part of an agenda filled with activity making up the Third Annual National Manufacturing Day.  Delgado’s award is from one of ten award categories that day, and recognizes the individual who has demonstrated potential to make a significant impact as a leader in the future of New Jersey manufacturing.

“We are proud at Exothermic Molding to have Caonabo receive this honor.  It is a direct reflection of his contribution to the growth of our company, and plans for our future as a world class producer of goods,” observed Paul Steck, President of the reaction injection molding company.  “Caonabo’s acumen has been pivotal in making us a company whose customers recently rated us outstanding in several key metrics.”

Mr. Delgado’s education and career have been devoted to the manufacturing industry.  Attending Rutgers University, he graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ceramics and Materials, later earning an MBA from DeVry University in 2008 while focusing his future on manufacturing management.  He has furthered his knowledge and efficacy by earning certifications in 5S, Lean Manufacturing, ISO, and Velocity Production Scheduling.

His influence on the company’s manufacturing practices yielded quantifiable results in the growth of Exothermic Molding.  Most importantly, he recognizes and rigorously advocates the manufacturing sector as a viable arena for progress and advancement.   Each year, for the past 13 years, he donates his time regularly speaking to students at the Union City High School about Engineering and the possibilities of a career in science and technology.

“I believe it is very important to give back to the community and let youth know that the future can be what they make of it,” he offers. “If I can get through to just one student about manufacturing, then I know that there will be one more person out there to keep the industry vital.”

When asked about his plans in manufacturing now that he has established this hallmark, he responds: “that’s simple – I am going to follow the advice of one of my mentors.  Always be a solution, not an obstacle.”

About Exothermic Molding Inc.

Exothermic Molding Inc. is one of the pioneers in the RIM Molding industry, The company was founded circa 1972 to provide Reaction Injection Molded (RIM) parts to the medical, electronic, and lab instrument market. Since then Exothermic Molding has expanded into many other applications and markets but remains committed to the RIM Molding process.

The company operates a state-of-the-art facility with modern computerized Programmable Logic Controlled machinery and remains at the forefront of RIM manufacturing.

Media Contact

Joseph Passarella
Marketing Manager

Phone:  908.272.2299

Email address:  joe@exothermic.com

RIM Molding vs. Urethane Casting (Rubber Molds)

Both Reaction Injection Molding and Urethane Casting offer a good deal of design freedom, including the ability to mold-in features and encapsulate materials.  They differ in the fact that only RIM allows for part design with significant wall thickness variations—typically from .125″ to 1.125″ in the same part.

RIM as well as urethane casting can be used to encapsulate a variety of materials, from metals to electronics. Each also produce a high quality finish, and take paint, silk screening and texturing well for improved branding.

Urethane casting in silicone rubber molds is often the more cost-effective choice for small production volumes, but rubber molds have a limited cycle life and long-term production can become cost prohibitive compared to RIM. Both processes are appropriate for producing molds for quick turnaround.

The initial tooling costs of urethane casting are lower than that of RIM. Tooling modification is also very cost-effective, but when aiming for production parts, RIM becomes the better choice cost-wise.

OTHER DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS: Many companies utilize rubber molds for years prior to converting to more permanent tooling, which can end up being extremely expensive. Because RIM can bridge the gap between prototype and production with parts that are precision molded instead of fabricated or cast, it can actually be most cost effective to utilize RIM in lieu of rubber molding.

Reaction Injection Molding vs. Aluminum Casting. Very large, light-weight, low-cost parts without the design limitations.

Continuing our exploration of the right molding process for part design (“Determining the Right Molding Process for Part Design”), this blog entry considers RIM Molding vs. Aluminum Casting.

Many features in aluminum casting can be made in the cast, but critical features must be machined as a secondary operation. RIM allows these features to be molded in for reduced handling and reduced cost.  Both methods allow for variable wall thickness—down to 0.60” for aluminum casting, and from 0.12” to 1.12” in RIM. Another major difference is appearance quality. A grinder is used for cleanup in aluminum casting, while RIM Molding delivers an excellent finish out of the mold.

Materials cannot be encapsulated with aluminum casting. Only RIM can encapsulate metals, electronics, and other parts for optimum protection and strength. Compared to RIM, the finish quality of aluminum cast parts is low; and RIM can take paint, silk screening and texturing better for improved branding.

Both processes are appropriate for small run volumes, but are not cost-effective when dealing with larger quantities (over 500/mo.). RIM tooling lead times are shorter than for aluminum casting. Both RIM and aluminum casting require a low up-front cost, although RIM is slightly more cost effective if tooling modification will be needed.

Another Design Consideration: With RIM, you can create very large, light-weight, low-cost parts that would otherwise be limited in design with aluminum casting.

Learn more at : www.exothermic.com

Reaction Injection Molding vs. Sheet Metal. Sheet metal may be a low cost option, but what are you willing to sacrifice?

Continuing our exploration of the right molding process for part design (“Determining the Right Molding Process for Part Design”), this blog entry considers RIM Molding vs.Sheet Metal

Sheet metal is a very low cost option for part production, but with this process you sacrifice many design features and often add piece counts to final assembly. RIM allows for much more intricate and sophisticated form development compared to sheet metal.

Any features on the inner or outer surface of a sheet metal part must be cut out, welded, or bolted on as a secondary process. With these features molded into a RIM mold, you can reduce assembly, add value to the overall design, and ultimately lower unit costs.

Materials cannot be encapsulated in sheet metal. Only RIM can encapsulate metals, electronics, and other parts for optimum protection and strength. Both processes produce a high quality finish, but also take paint, silk screening and texturing well for improved branding.

Sheet metal is the most cost-effective option for small production volumes, but RIM could be taken into consideration if the part design is complex. While sheet metal tooling
turnaround is very quick, RIM Molding can incorporate features from production molds that require less secondary costs than sheet metal.

Up-front tooling costs of sheet metal are lower than that of RIM tools, and modifications to the design can also be made at low costs. The trade-off is that many design features cannot be incorporated into sheet metal like they would with the RIM process, and non-rectilinear sheet metal parts become cost prohibitive in production.

Other Design Considerations: Using RIM molding will yield a much more attractive, sculpted design that is lighter in weight and has better chemical resistance and insulation properties.

RIM Molding Surpasses Thermoforming With Multiple Benefits

Continuing our exploration of the right molding process for part design (“Determining the Right Molding Process for Part Design”), this blog entry considers RIM Molding vs. Thermoform Molding

Both of these processes are valuable for producing large-sized parts, but the design flexibility of RIM molding will make it a better choice for complex parts. Since thermoforming is a sheet forming process, it cannot produce variable wall thickness or internal details

without time-consuming, manual gluing of additional pieces to the thermoformed part. Only RIM gives the designer the flexibility to produce parts with significant wall thickness variations of up to .125” to 1.125” in the same part. Any inside features in a thermoformed part must be bonded on secondary, whereas RIM can incorporate all features into the mold for reduced assembly and lower unit cost.

The temperature needed for RIM molding is low enough to prevent damage to encapsulated materials.  Antennas, metals, electronics, circuits and other features can be insulated to increase mass, strength, burst protection and branding of parts. Encapsulation cannot be done with the thermoforming process.  Produced thermoformed parts have the quality finish of the sheet material, but RIM parts take paint, silk screening and texture well for improved cosmetics.

Both processes are appropriate for small run volumes and for producing molds for quick turnaround.  RIM and thermoforming tools also both require a low up-front cost, but RIM tools are easier to change and will therefore be more cost-effective if market feedback shows that part features should be modified.
Other Design Considerations: Thermoformed parts are only as strong as their outside shell, and can often “tin can” or blemish from inherent process variation. RIM parts typically hold tighter tolerances than thermoformed parts. Stiffening ribs can be molded into RIM parts to produce high strength products in any size.

Read more about it in our white paper, “Determining the Right Molding Process for Part Design.  How RIM Molding Advantages Compare with Traditional Production Technologies”.

Download the paper at (www.exothermic.com).

More Information

Industrial Designers

Get inspired, share your work, and learn more about RIM.