Industry Trends

Getting Back to Normal at MDM West 2022


Following cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, trade shows are making a comeback in a big way. This year’s MDM West show took place from April 12 to the 14th in Anaheim, California and was jam-packed. The floor traffic this year was even heavier than it was pre-pandemic. It was the perfect opportunity to talk to returning and new customers about some great opportunities. Here are a few common topics of discussion: 

Supply Chain Issues

As expected, many customers came to us asking about current supply chain issues and what could be done to help. We are experiencing what is likely the worst time for the rubber supply chain in the last twenty years. Disruptions in polymer supply, ingredients, and even overseal parts have put much pressure on companies’ abilities to supply finished rubber parts. 

With that said, conditions may not improve until the first or second quarter of next year. At Apple Rubber, we have been telling our customers to get their orders in as soon as possible and to push out any forecast for the new year to help maintain safety stock levels. Our company has been trying to maintain higher than usual raw material and finished product levelsspecially for customers with blanket orders or forecasted orders in our ERP system. 

Currently, FKM polymers are experiencing the worst of the supply chain problems. Due to the expansion of the EV market, the raw ingredients used to make the polymers are in short supply, creating a global shortage. This is followed by silicone, especially military and aerospace grades. Solar panel production has put pressure on the silica market and caused a scarcity of silicone polymers. 

Prototype Projects

We have received many requests to take on new projects. Among them are unique opportunities to work with new medical equipment designs. Thanks to our in-house mold making capabilities, we can reduce lead times and help these new designs reach the market quickly. Apple Rubber also offers direct engineering design assistance to ensure proper seal performance. We can also work directly with design engineers to ensure tolerance stack up and moldability to streamline the prototyping process. With our numerous rubber formulations, we can produce a compound that accurately fits the intended application environment. If required, polymer engineers can further modify formulations to provide optimal performance. 

Apple Rubber Online

We received many compliments on our website, particularly our interactive o-ring gland calculator. Our new Axial Seal calculator compliments a revised Radial Seal calculator, giving design engineers the ability to do calculations for both static and dynamic seal designs. We also posted an update to our Seal Design Guide. With just a few changes to our lubrication guides and material offerings, this change enhances our users’ abilities to design the most robust seal possible. 

It might have been one of the coldest MDM West shows, but it was also one of the most active. We were very glad to see all our old customers and have the chance to meet potential new customers.