Tag Archives: Rubber

How New Chinese Tariffs Impact Small-Mid Sized Manufacturers

Recently imposed Chinese tariffs on U.S. rubber imports will have significant impact on the small to medium American manufacturers that support industries such as automotive, medical equipment, petrochemical, and plastics. As part of an increasingly contentious trade war, the latest Chinese tariffs call for a 25% increase on an array of goods, such as those used in rubber and polymer component fabrication.

The Harmful Impacts of a Trade War on Small Businesses

Small- and mid-sized manufacturers in America specializing in rubber moldings, extrusions, and injection-molded parts will be forced to find ways to counteract the adverse effects of rising inflation on raw materials. Petroleum is a primary component for synthetic rubber and polymer production, so the most recent tariffs mounted by China will no doubt force small manufacturers to increase their prices to compensate.

In early June, the Trump administration launched its first wave of tariffs against Chinese-manufactured equipment, including the injection and transfer molding machines commonly used for extruded rubber and plastics. This has only compounded the difficulties of the situation for smaller manufacturers, causing them to seek alternate sources for the rubber fabrication machinery they rely on to create products and components. The long-term effects are expected to influence manufacturers serving in the custom and OEM markets, including those facing downward pressure from larger partners that have also been affected by tariffs from both sides.

In automotive production, rubber-based and plastic-based products such as gaskets, seals, brake pads, and tires are on the front lines. Medical equipment companies rely on custom extruded plastic tubing, pump parts, and device housings. With another round of 25% tariffs recently finalized by the Trump administration, small and custom manufacturers must brace for the additional escalations that will inevitably follow.

Plan Ahead, Avoid Potential Pitfalls

The trade war could potentially expand into industrial chemicals and fluoropolymers that are used in rubber gaskets and extruded plastic profiles, as well. Many of those materials are chemically formulated for high-temperature ranges, corrosion resistance, and anti-weathering, making them a crucial requirement for operations with harsh environments. A domino effect in pricing will no doubt impact buyers down the supply chain in a range of industries. Fortunately, however, many small business manufacturers are doing what they can by shifting resources to other markets, reducing production, and tightening profit margins.

Industry at UPR

At Universal Polymer & Rubber, our team is committed to staying on point for our clients, leveraging seasoned and innovative methods to ensure that we maintain the same service standards despite the trade war impact. We work hard every day to apply our years of small business manufacturing expertise to finding ways to ensure that our clients get their products on-time, within budget, and without sacrificing quality.

Follow our blogTwitter, and LinkedIn to stay up to date on current industry news and trends. For more information on our products and services, contact us today.

Learning & Evolution Continues in Manufacturing with Industry Trade Shows

Manufacturing at its Strongest Since 2004

The long-promised acceleration in US manufacturing may be just around the corner.

2017 closed strong. In fact, the numbers peg it as a favorable year of the likes of 2004 when the depredations of recession hadn’t tarnished profits.

With the morale running high, it is a golden time for all providers to grow, evolve and get equipped for the spike in demand that may follow soon.

And what better way to learn, network and be seen than at some of the most popular, progressive and authoritative trade shows in the country?

Universal Polymer & Rubber Ltd. Is on the Road

February and March will see us rubbing shoulders with manufacturing luminaries – sharing insights, presenting innovations and probing areas that rubber and plastic moldings and custom extrusions fall short in.

These occasions always spark fresh activity at Universal Polymer & Rubber as we return to the drawing board to brainstorm and improve industry solutions.

This year will be no different.

We are looking to not only foster relationships but also a deeper understanding of what we can do to serve client industries that much more efficiently.

The first stop is the Precast Show, held over February 22nd & 24th at the Colorado Convention Center. It is an endeavor by the Precast Organization to bring together contributors and stakeholders who regulate and disrupt this key market. Precast and rubber may seem to belong to different worlds, but the strength of the former often relies on the flexibility of the latter as rubber is the sealing element of choice that maintains the integrity of complex precast structures.

We will be at booth 521, ready to engage with precast aficionados.

Next,  from March 22nd to 24th we’ll be at the Kentucky Exposition Centre participating in the largest annual heavy-duty trucking event in the world – The Mid America Trucking Show.  The perception of trucking has transformed rapidly over the past decade and it is in part to shows like the MATS where educational seminars and live product demonstrations infuse the raw power of trucks with the cutting edge technological strides made in the fields of AI & Big Data.

The outlook for truck sales is optimistic for the next several years and we look to be right in the middle of the upsurge.

Finally, the American Concrete Pipe Association (ACPA) Annual Convention will be happening in San Diego over March 24th through 27th. We look forward to learning more about the technological improvements driving the industry.

 

Stay in Touch

If you’re like us and want to stay abreast of breakthroughs in the world of manufacturing, follow us on the blog, Twitter & LinkedIn.

Or you can contact us for a custom quote.

UNIVERSAL POLYMER SOARS WITH RUBBER TECHNOLOGY ADVANCEMENTS AND RUBBER EXTRUSIONS

The extrusion process is the mainstay of the manufacturing industry. It is relatively affordable and leads to the production of precisely shaped two-dimensional objects in a continuous line or flow. It allows manufacturers the freedom to create end deliverables in large batches and then serve multiple customers by cutting the extruded products to the desired length and shipping them out to the buyers.

Extrusion allows strict adherence to customer specifications. Since the process in itself is not dependent on a plunger or a clamp (as is injection molding), it can accept brittle raw material as input and work with it for a satisfactory result!

Rubber is no different. The elasticity of rubber renders it impervious to stress. It can return to its original form without any signs of distress and thus extruded rubber offerings are immensely popular all over the world. From insulations and seals to gaskets and power equipment parts, they hold their sway because of their robustness and pliability – a unique combination.

THE ACTUAL RUBBER EXTRUSION PROCESS:  

Extrusion processes never vary too greatly. Thus rubber extrusion is intrinsically similar to plastic extrusion because it relies on the speed of the rotation screw of the machine to push the raw material down the length of the extrusion passageway and uses heat and pressure to melt the rubber.

But there is a major difference between extrusion and other rubber manipulation techniques. The initial lump is always un-vulcanized. So that the drawing of the products from the die is easy and the deliverables align beautifully with the original request by the buyer.

The soft extruded offerings are then cured to provide stability and strength.

UNIVERSAL POLYMER AND RUBBER L.T.D. OFFERINGS:

Universal Polymer and Rubber is an ISO 9001 certified company that is widely renowned for the quality of its service and the best practices followed by its experts to display mastery over a wide range of rubbers and polymers.

Its extrusions meet ASTM, SAE, and Mil specs depending on the nature of the order and the type of raw material being used. It has collaborated with construction, automotive, transportation, glass and window, drainage pipe, and other outdoor industries for well over four decades and takes care to ensure that post vulcanization shrinking or swelling doesn’t impact the dimensions of the manufactured deliverables adversely.

Please contact info@universalpolymer.com for a custom quote.

Ohio Manufacturing

The rebound in manufacturing since the Great Recession began in 2009 has been incredible, and it has helped to spur on our country’s economic recovery. Throughout the United States, some states are more involved in the manufacturing sector than others. Here in Ohio, we are one of the top five states in the country in regards to manufacturing, meaning our state is one of the leaders in the economic recovery of our country. Here are ten facts you should know about manufacturing in Ohio:

  1. In 2013, Ohio had a manufacturing output of $99.83 billion of goods, the fourth-largest output in the nation. Ohio has been in the top five by manufacturing output every year since 2008.
  2. This output accounts for 17.66% of the total gross state output.
  3. If Ohio’s manufacturing sector was its own country, it would rank 64th in the world, with a greater output than countries like Belarus, Sri Lanka, and many more.
  4. Manufacturing employed over 682,600 people in 2014, the third most of any state.
  5. Since 2009, Ohio has added over 68,000 new manufacturing jobs.
  6. Manufacturing jobs in Ohio pay well – while the average annual compensation for all non-farm employment was $46,654 annually in 2014, for manufacturing, the average compensation was $69,951.
  7. Ohio is home to numerous large manufacturing companies – Procter & Gamble, Marathon Petroleum, Sherwin-William, AK Steel, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, and Crown Equipment are just a few that have headquarters in the state.
  8. All together, including us here at Universal Polymer, there were 13,045 manufacturing firms in Ohio as of 2012.
  9. Ohio’s top manufacturing industries are transportation equipment, fabricated metal products, machinery, food and manufacturing, and plastics and rubber products, in that order.
  10. From 2009 through 2013, Ohio ranked either first or second every year in regards to manufacturing growth of sites that created 50 jobs, had 20,000 square feet or more of manufacturing space, or had over $1 million in investments.

As you can see, Ohio is an extremely successful and important state when it comes to manufacturing, and at Universal Polymer and Rubber, we are extremely proud to be part of it. We look forward to Ohio continuing to be a national powerhouse in the manufacturing sector. If you want to know more about Ohio manufacturing or you are interested in being part of it through a career in manufacturing, get in touch with us or The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association at www.ohiomfg.com.

Mixing the Right Batch – The Importance of Rubber Chemists

Manufacturing rubber compounds is a lot like baking a cake: it all comes down to having the right recipe. And just like any good recipe comes from a good chef, a high quality rubber compound is devised by a skilled rubber chemist.

A rubber chemist’s job starts when they receive an ASTM specification from a manufacturer. That spec dictates the needs of the finished rubber compound, from required hardness, strength and elongation, to necessary ozone and temperature change resistance. From there, the rubber chemist sets about crafting a compound that meets three challenges:

  1. Design for Application: The compound must satisfy the requirements of the ASTM spec.
  2. Design for Manufacturability: The compound must retain its desired characteristics after being processed in the manufacturer’s facility.
  3. Design for Market: The compound must be the lowest cost possible while still achieving 1 and 2.

Creating a compound that meets the necessary requirements on paper is different than creating one that satisfies real world conditions. Ensuring the manufacturability of a rubber compound means walking it through the manufacturing process it will undergo—be that extrusion, molding or some other process—and seeing how the compound reacts in use. A skilled rubber chemist understands compounds, chemical interactions and end use applications—in short, they understand the process of turning raw rubber into a finished part.

To begin their work, a rubber chemist will mix rubber in one or two pound batches, testing each until they hit upon a compound that satisfies all three design challenges. From there, they’ll typically move up to a full batch, then continue to scale up. As they do they’ll make sure that the proper mixing time, mixing temperature and weigh ups (the weights and percentages of each component of the rubber compound) are observed. A rubber chemist will follow their compound through the mixing process,  and often through the rubber manufacturer’s own trial process as well.

Rubber chemists play an integral role in the manufacturing world. Wherever a rubber part is involved, the process of manufacturing that part began with a rubber chemist. Right now there is a shortage of skilled chemists in the rubber industry. The ones who have reached retirement age are often paid to stay longer as anxiety builds about a shortage of new chemists entering the field. As we discussed in a past blog, the task of motivating the next generation falls to all of us currently working in manufacturing. Spurring students to pursue  careers in rubber chemistry will ensure that the rubber manufacturing industry stays strong for years to come.