Silicones vs. TPEs for Infant Care Products

Posted by Mike Fil on April 15, 2019

Designers of infant care products need safe, clean materials with the right performance properties and processing capabilities. Silicones, a group of synthetic elastomers, are used in baby care products such as pacifiers, baby bottle nipples , feeding sets, sippy tops ,...

Read More

Choosing the Right Color for Your Silicone or Plastic Product

Posted by Corie Yodis on March 2, 2018

The color of your plastic or silicone product can make all the difference, especially for your consumers. It’s the first thing any customer will see of a product and can make a real impact on sales. The right color choice can set you apart from competitors and other brands,...

Read More

Silicone Overmolding Secrets

Posted by Mike Fil on July 31, 2019

Silicone overmolding is an injection molding process that molds silicone over, under, or through a substrate material to complete the final part. By allowing product designers to combine the best of two materials, this manufacturing process supports variations in durometer...

Read More

Pet Product Manufacturing: Made in USA from Safe Molding Materials

Posted by Mike Fil on June 20, 2019

Pet product manufacturing that’s Made in the USA from safe materials provides pet companies with a competitive advantage. According to a recent report, more than 60% of dog and cat owners say they’re concerned about the safety of the products they buy for their animals. That’s a lot of purchasing power in an industry that the American Pet Products Association (APPA) says will sell over $75 billion dollars’ worth of goods to U.S. consumers in 2019.

For pet product designers, selecting the right molding material isn’t just about choosing plastic instead of silicone, or a silicone instead of a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). Each type of material is available in different compounds – and they’re not all safe, clean and traceable. Without traceability, a supplier could change a compound’s ingredients and invalidate claims that a plastic chew toy is “BFA free”, or that a silicone pet bowl is “food safe”. TPEs are less likely to leach harmful substances but generally cost more.        

Pet Product Safety and Material Selection

Many dog and cat owners are familiar with pet food recalls, but there’s growing attention to the safety of pet products like chew toys, dog collars, pet bowls and food accessories that contain molded materials. For example, the plastic batons that are used to teach dogs to retrieve may contain bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical that’s been linked to health risks. BPA imparts greater elasticity to plastics but can leach-out with aging and weathering.

Like plastics, silicones may contain ingredients that are designed to impart specific properties. Examples include pigments for custom colors and additives that control cure speeds. To promote pet product safety, designers can specify food-grade or medical-grade silicones that meet standards from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP). Yet it’s not just the base elastomer that requires traceability. Changing an additive may introduce a non-compliant ingredient.

Depending on the application, designers can specify TPEs instead. Like silicones, TPEs have very low levels of extractables, substances that migrate from the surface of a pet product under conditions such as elevated temperature. TPEs are available in higher durometers for greater hardness but can deform permanently or lose their material properties when subjected to repetitive usage such as chewing. TPEs cost more but, unlike silicones, can be melted and re-processed once molding is complete.  

Pet Product Manufacturing and Injection Molding

Made in the USA manufacturing with value-added injection molding offers help with material selection and proven molding expertise. Overseas injection molders often lead with low prices but may recommend the wrong materials or use compounds that lack traceability. Plus, start-up companies may not be able to get the design assistance that they need. Before sending a pet product to China then, it pays to talk to a Made in America manufacturer. WigWag dog collars provides a case study.    

The WigWag Dog Co. makes dog collars that are durable, waterproof, flexible, odorproof, and color-transfer resistant. These products also carry a lifetime guarantee for the pets who wear them. When WigWag wanted to reshore production from China, the company contacted Extreme Molding, a Made in the USA injection molder in Watervliet, New York. During the material selection process, Extreme Molding recommended an FDA-approved thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) instead of silicone.

By using this TPE instead of silicone rubber, WigWag also improved its product. The company’s injection molded products don’t just last longer and look better. They promote pet safety and are Made in the USA, a hallmark of quality. Plus, the startup now has a trusted manufacturing partner. Extreme Molding works with TPEs and can also injection mold BPA-free co-polyester and a clean, pure, traceable silicone that meet FDA and USP Class VI requirements. To learn more, contact us.  


Tags: Injection Molding, WigWag Dog Collars, Pet Products, tpe, silicone, pet product manufacturing, cat toys, dog toys