Silicone hoses are used in a host of applications ranging from automotive, food processing, medical, industrial etc. The versatility of silicone rubber makes it suitable for use in numerous places. Hoses are commonly used in intake systems, air coolers, etc. They are available in a number of diameters from large to small and can be ordered in many cuts and bents.
An order of silicone hoses does not take too long to manufacture since the manufacturing process has been customized by their manufacturers. The manufacturing process requires the right skills, tools, materials and the proper time. Here is a detailed look at the manufacturing process of silicone hoses:
Stage 1: Making a Mandrel Tool
A mandrel tool is a shaping tool that is made of metal and is hollow. It is used to bend silicone rubber in the shape and diameter of the desired silicone hose. It is commonly used in many other applications like blowing glass.
The first stage is to make mandrel tool(s) in the shape of the silicone hose(s). This is done by manipulating steel in the desired shape of the hose. These tools are usually stored by manufacturers in thousands of shapes and sizes. The dimensions are available on their website or product catalogue.
Stage 2: Choosing the Raw Materials
The raw materials are chosen specifically for making silicone hoses. These include silicone rubber, color pigments and reinforcement fabrics. Hoses are multi-layered and reinforcement fabrics are used to give them strength.
Stage 3: Milling & Calendering
The silicone rubber compound and the color pigments are mixed together in a mill. This process is called ‘milling’. It takes around half an hour in the mill to produce a color pigmented silicone rubber compound.
The colored silicone rubber compound is placed into a calendaring machine. The machine presses the compound between rollers to make it into thin sheets. The calendaring machine then presses the flattened compound on to the reinforcement fabric. Now the material is ready to hand build the hoses.
Stage 4: Cutting & Rolling
The thin sheets are cut and piled to roll. The builders roll the thin sheets in tubes. It is necessary to maintain the correct thickness of the tubes. A finished tube needs to have the correct number of reinforcement plies. Now these tubes are ready to be used for building hoses.
The silicone tubes are carefully pushed on the mandrel tools to give the desired shape. Any air bubbles or joints are smoothed out. Silicone hoses that have extra joints or bends need extra care to push the tubes into shape.
Stage 5: Oven Curing, Cooling & Stripping
The silicone hoses are then cured in the oven and then cooled down. This gives them the desired shape. To remove them, they are stripped from the mold in one swift motion and put in the wash hose for cleaning. The hoses are then sent for trimming and inspection.
Stage 6: Trimming & Inspection
Before trimming the hose is marked where the edge has to be cut. The edges are then cut using a machine for fine edges. After trimming the silicone hoses are sent for quality inspection. Once they are approved they are ready for shipping to the client.