A Chat with SILITECH’s Brandon Huang about Dual-material Molding

I recently connected with Brandon Huang at SILITECH Technology to learn more about the company’s technology, solutions, and how they work with IoT hardware device innovators to get their products designed and manufactured.

Please introduce yourself.

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My name is Brandon Huang, Director of Technology Application & Support at SILITECH Technology Corporation. I am responsible for forecasting needs, requirements, and future direction for SILITECH’s technology plan, collaborating with R&D, Sales, and Engineering departments along with external partners to present and implement innovative technology developed by SILITECH and our partners, and set policy, regulations, system standards and operating procedures of our core processes.

What services does SILITECH provide? Can you elaborate more about your solutions?

SILITECH provides integrated solutions such as mechanical design, tooling development, dual-material combination (rubber + plastic, glass + plastic, metal + rubber, etc.), decoration techniques, and optic-electronic integrations. Furthermore, SILITECH provides joint-design in the ESI stage to find and solve design and process issues in advance.

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What is dual-material molding?  What kind of products require dual-material molding?

Dual-material molding is the process of molding two or more different materials into one part. There are several processes to achieve this, such as two-shot plastic injection molding, insert injection molding, and insert compression molding. Each material has its own characteristics with different advantages and disadvantages. The goal of Dual-Material Molding is to compound the materials’ strengths and inhibit their individual weaknesses. Sometimes we also apply Dual-material molding to get the appearance of real materials with other materials framed inside.

What’s the difficulty in the dual material molding? Is there any lesson we can learn from?In any of the dual-material molding procedures, mistakes and problems such as flow lines, sink marks, weld lines, shorts, and burn marks, etc. always occur if every tiny step is not well designed and executed. Most mistakes are caused by personnel without the necessary experience or the right tools at their disposal. Conversely, creative solutions and ingenuity abound in personnel with the right experience and the correct combination of hardware and software. Finding the right team of people with relevant expertise is the most important part of the process.

In any of the dual-material molding procedures, mistakes and problems such as flow lines, sink marks, weld lines, shorts, and burn marks, etc. always occur if every tiny step is not well designed and executed. Most mistakes are caused by personnel without the necessary experience or the right tools at their disposal. Conversely, creative solutions and ingenuity abound in personnel with the right experience and the correct combination of hardware and software. Finding the right team of people with relevant expertise is the most important part of the process.

How are dual material molding process performed? What technologies are involved?

There are several processes to achieve, such as two-shot plastic injection molding, insert injection molding, and insert compression molding, UV pattern printing, and ultrasonic/heat melting.

Critical technologies involved include the material(s) properties, cross-bonding and physical connection, tooling design, and multi-processes setup.

What are the lessons learned from working on dual-material molding method that you’d like to share with hardware developers who’d like to build products that might use them?

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The major product that SILITECH likes to promote is chemical cross-bonding dual-material molding to combine various materials’ specialty. Each material has its own characteristics with different advantages and disadvantages. The goal of Dual-Material Molding is to compound the materials’ strengths and inhibit their individual weaknesses. Sometimes we also apply Dual-material molding to get the appearance of real materials with other materials framed inside.

For example, we are making a GIM (Glass Insert-Molding) lens for a scanner device – the lens is clear glass inside and with plastic housing outside. This part allows scanner light to perfectly pass through the lens and can be easily assembled with the back plastic housing.

Another example is the strap we made for a smartwatch, which is a combination of plastic and silicone. The strap needs our Dual-material Molding because there is no room and cosmetic issue with glue adhesion. We apply Dual-material Molding to directly and chemically connect the plastic and silicone.

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How does SILITECH work with hardware companies? When a customer comes to you for consultation, what is your process of understanding the product? What are the typical questions you ask? What do the creators need to prepare?

We work closely with customers from ESI stage by APQP system; so we clarify QED by discussing in 3D drawings, 2D specifications, and CMF requirements. After understanding their design intention, then we go through reliability specifications review to setup materials and processes. Same as above, customers need to provide 3D drawings and CMF.

What are the most interesting and innovative projects you have been working on recently? What new technologies, innovations were involved that can demonstrate Silitech’s expertise working with composite materials or the advantages of working with Silitech?

Recently we worked with an electronic lock system maker in Finland to make a RFID Tag (Key) for next generation electronic locks. This tag required a quite different tooling design and fabrication – we needed to seal the electronic components as water-proof. The customer provided their outline (CMF) and internal electronic design, then we suggested a full design.

What changes have you recently witnessed in the industry? How are manufacturers and the supply chain adapting to the whole wave of IoT?

The changes we have witnessed the most in the past few years include profit margins decreasing and labor costs increasing, no more orders of huge quantities but more small customized order inquiries. It’s tough for everyone but we believe we will eventually get over it if we try hard to make a change. We have invested more human resources in R&D for

The changes we have witnessed the most in the past few years include profit margins decreasing and labor costs increasing, no more orders of huge quantities but more small customized order inquiries. It’s tough for everyone but we believe we will eventually get over it if we try hard to make a change. We have invested more human resources in R&D for more innovative creations and improvements in our processes so that we can more easily fit into the IoT world. Also, we have recruited new sales specialists from different industries giving us more ideas from those other industries, in which we are not involved, but may bring us profit in the near future.

How do you see online collaboration platforms like HWTrek improving hardware product development, project management, and supply chain visibility?

Before getting in touch with HWTrek, we never knew it was that easy to discover all these opportunities to work with innovative creators from around the world. We can easily propose our practical solutions to those in need for a better-developed design or solve knotty problems. Also, creators can review their desired resources in a flash through the solution panel on the HWTrek platform and contact experts without any difficulty. We are more than amazed by the cool features HWTrek demonstrates and are thankful for the online/offline marketing channels that make our company much more visible than ever before. It not only saves precious time searching for suitable customers but also saves much of the expenditures we used to spend on traveling and traditional marketing advertisements.

Fun questions:

What are your ‘go-to’ sources for tech information and news? (Do you have any recommendations for a must-read/watch/listen to article, book, blog, film, or podcast, etc.?)

BBC Technology, Discovery, and National Geographic channels are my main sources of getting the latest tech information and news. Though those TV programs might not be the latest news and technology at the time I watch them, I still love to watch them every day when I get back home from work.

What fuels you (coffee, tea, or….)? When you’re low on creative juice, what is your #1 method to get back on track?

Coffee of course. I can’t live a day without coffee.

What do you recommend (place to go/see, what to eat) for a visitor to Taipei?

Tamsui, the district of New Taipei City where SILITECH is located, has the most beautiful coastal views in Taiwan and there are many historical sites there as well for tourists to visit. It’s the must-go place I recommend no matter if it is the first time you come to Taiwan.

What gadget would you love to have from your favorite science fiction film or book?

The invisible coat and perspective glass from the comic book Doraemon, for sure.

You can learn more about the SILITECH Composite Material Solution and connect with Alex Huang, an account manager at SILITECH on the HWTrek platform.