WHEEL CHOCK PROJECT OVERVIEW
Race Ramps came to us looking for a higher level of service and a quality product. The opportunity arose after their existing supplier was no longer interested in producing their short-run injection molded recycled wheel chocks. Race Ramps also was not completely satisfied with the part, because it was too hard and a high durometer allowed it to slip during use. The molder attempted to mix in crumb rubber at the injection molding machine to improve grip and add elastomeric properties, but they were unable to create a quality part with good surface finish. Entech’s TPE Value Enhancement Program was a great solution for modifying part grip, saving costs, and improving overall performance, while providing turn-key shortrun production.
TPE Value Enhancement Program Snapshot:
- Short-Run Production: 1,000 Parts Per Month
- Reduced Cost Per Part: 10%
- Improved Part Properties
- Recycled Content Approaching 100%
- Quick 2-day Turnaround for Tooling Modifications
TPE VALUE ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM FOR WHEEL CHOCKS PROJECT
7-step process for adding elastomeric properties to thermoplastic injection molded, extruded or vacuum formed parts at a value price point.
Step 1: Viability Assessment
Neal Frey, Entech’s Business Development Manager, arranged for an introductory call with Richard Heinz of Race Ramps and David Stackhouse, Entech’s Product and Processing Engineer. David quickly understood that Richard wanted to make improvements to his part but their existing supplier wasn’t giving them much attention. After this talk, Richard was intrigued enough to make the trip to Middlebury, IN to see the operations.
Step 2: Product Design
Lavon Detweiler, Entech CEO, and David Stackhouse began looking for ways to improve part design. Two things stood out:
By compounding Entech micro-sized rubber powder with recycled TPEs, the Entech team knew it was possible to add elastomeric properties to the thermoplastic thereby improving grip of the chock, while also improving impact resistance and strength.
Entech’s micronized rubber powder (MRP) would provide a smoother surface texture when compared with less refined alternatives. Although only a simple wheel chock, it was being used as a promotional tool so appearance improvement would be a nice bonus.
Step 3: Tooling
Having complete control over tooling modifications meant Entech could easily replace the former “Made in Canada” insert with “Made in USA.” Entech turned this around in two days.
Step 4: Compounding
When it comes to compounding, Entech’s go-to-guy is Haikun Xu, a PhD from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. His goal is to maximize product performance and processability. For Race Ramps, he followed his usual 3-step approach:
Clearly Define Part Requirements
In this case Haikun was asked to improve shape recovery, crack resistance, low temperature impact resistance and surface tackiness. There was also a desire to use recycled materials as much as possible.
Haikun’s solution was to design a formulation including recycled thermoplastic elastomer resins compounded with a high loading of MRP. Resins were carefully chosen to create a drop-in replacement requiring no major tooling changes.
Entech’s in-house compounding line, molding line, and testing laboratory greatly accelerates the process of identifying the optimal recipe. In this particular project, the formulation met the customer’s targets for durability and surface grip, while also achieving a total recycled content of nearly 100%.
Steps 5-7: Prototype, Testing and Production
Finally, Neal Frey put the icing on the cake for Race Ramps by piecing together a production schedule and price point that not only met their requirements but exceeded expectations.
ABOUT OUR TPE VALUE ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM
The TPE Value Enhancement Program by Entech is a 7-step process that adds elastomeric properties to thermoplastic injection molded, extruded or vacuum formed parts at a reduced price point when compared to virgin TPEs.
Ideal applications would be for those seeking improvements in weatherability, flexibility, resilience, impact resistance, crack resistance or surface grip.
Entech specializes in the compounding of thermoplastic elastomers, conventional polyolefins, and the use of micronized rubber powder (MRP) as a filler in thermoplastics. This unique offer is supported by turn-key product design, tooling, prototyping, testing and production services.