Industry Trends

Medica / Compamed 2022


It was another great year at Medica / Compamed 2022 in Duesseldorf, Germany. Apple Rubber has now been going to this show for over 15 years. It’s a great way to visit our current international customers and gain new ones. It’s also nice to see our current American customers displaying at the show.

Compamed Show

Attendance was much better than last year — maybe 20% lower than pre-Covid shows. Shows halls were again filled with exhibitors and there was good traffic all four days. The only Covid requirements were masking on public transportation. As always, full trains to and from the show.

We had many interesting conversations with our customers at Compamed. Here are two topics that came up often.

Micro O-rings

First, Apple Rubber has over 40 years of experience producing our MicrOring™. Producing tiny o-rings, less than 1 mm in size, is very difficult. Tooling is critical to delivering the best quality o-rings. Secondary processes like Deflash are also crucial to making certain parts meet our customer’s highly precise needs. When working with tiny cross sections and inner diameters, too much flash can often cause parts to fail in applications. Even handling the o-rings after they are produced is a challenge. Over many years, we have perfected tool design to meet high tolerance and specific surface finish. Our Design Engineers keep challenging each other to continuously improve the process to make smaller and better materials.

We had a conversation with a customer that molds a lot of plastic. They tried to bring the molding of the MicrOring in-house. However, they quickly found out it was not as easy as molding microplastic parts. We provide many plastic molders with rubber parts that they use to assemble a finished product for their customer. We don’t try to mold plastic parts for the same reason.

Prototype Tooling

We have had many conversations about Aluminum tooling for prototypes. Aluminum tooling is a common practice for plastic molders. It saves money when making prototype plastic parts using aluminum vs. hardened steel. Apple Rubber does a lot of prototype tooling for our customers. We pride ourselves on being first in a new design with our customers. We have Design Engineers to work with customers to make sure groove and seal design will work for their application. Our Design Engineers can then model prototype tooling with 3D CAD software. Tool designs are passed to our in-house tooling department, which uses CAM software to create tooling paths for our high-speed CNC machines. It is our experience when it comes to sealing applications that it is just better to produce the mold in hardened steel. Harden tooling gives the best surface finish for sealing, and then we can mold many cycles as needed for the customer. It’s typical to plan to produce fewer than hundreds or thousands of prototypes, but we do have those jobs where it has happened. Thus, using a steel tool can still keep running for the customer to finalize their design.

As always, we look forward to Medica/Compamed 2023. With every changing supply challenge, we will continue to help out international customers. Since our parts are typically small, shipping direct to our global customers is not a problem. About a third of our business is international and keeps growing every year.