RDAbbott and NovationSi Show Summer Campers Manufacturing in Action

RDAbbott and NovationSi recently gave a group of Ohio middle schoolers a firsthand look at American manufacturing in action. On July 12th, approximately fifteen students from Barberton Middle School toured the 127,000+ sq. ft. facility in Barberton, Ohio, which is NovationSi’s headquarters and RDAbbott’s Northeast hub. The students learned how liquid silicone rubber (LSR) and high-consistency rubber (HCR) differ, as well as how they’re made, tested, colored, and cured.

The three-hour event was part of a weeklong Makers of Tomorrow summer camp hosted by Barberton Middle School in partnership with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. For the eleventh year in a row, Senator Brown’s office has worked with local organizations from across the state to provide young Ohioans with Manufacturing Summer Camps. In Summit County, where Barberton is located, the Makers of Tomorrow team sought local companies to provide facilities tours, informational sessions, and hands-on activities.

RDAbbott and NovationSi welcomed an inquiry from Jean Barbato, Senior Manager for the Manufacturing Sector Partnership at ConxusNEO, an Akron-based non-profit organization that connects local employers to education and workforce development programs. “RDAbbott and NovationSi understood that this was a wonderful opportunity to introduce students to manufacturing,” she said. “I keep telling parents that this is not your father’s manufacturing, but students need to see for themselves what’s out there.”

At the Barberton service center, RDAbbott and NovationSi employees shared the differences between LSR and HCR rubber and explained how these materials are fabricated. The employees also provided an overview of a liquid injection molding cell in their LSR Applications Lab; and covered physical properties testing, part inspection, and color dispersions in their QC Lab. Throughout the event, Makers of Tomorrow summer campers also learned about careers available in the rubber industry.

As part of their plant tour, students watched as HCR, plus yellow and blue pigments, were mixed on a 2-roll mill to produce green silicone. For a hands-on activity, the students picked colors they liked and made their own rubber bouncy balls. As a result of this activity, students got to experience firsthand what happens when a silicone base and a catalyst are combined, as well as the importance of rubber curing. A prize was also given to the student with the highest bouncing ball.

Michael Andric, Assistant Director of Curriculum for Barberton Middle School, helped to arrange the students’ participation, and two teachers from the school, who serve grades 5 through 7, also attended.

Bob Bradley, President of NovationSi, reflected on the event’s importance. “Educating the next generation of rubber industry talent is extremely important to NovationSi and RDAbbott,” Bradley stated. “It was a joy to watch these students take an interest in manufacturing, and to see our staff work together to provide a compelling overview of silicone and its vast uses and career opportunities.”