With Silicone Expo USA 2023 just a few weeks away, we thought this would be the perfect time to introduce you to our Gold Sponsor of this event: Novagard. Novagard designs and manufactures silicone sealants, coatings, lubricants, and foams mainly for the electronics, transportation/automotive, manufacturing, industrial, construction, medical, aerospace, and military markets.
We sat down with their team to learn a little more about their organization, their owner, and why more engineers are seeking out their silicone solutions.
SGE: Have you been in business long?
Novagard: Since 1977. We started out producing PVC foams for the automotive and industrial markets. In the late 80s, we commercialized silicone adhesives and sealants, following that with patents for a unique silicone formulation for window glazing in 1990, and a UV/dual cure silicone in 2006. In 2018, Sarah E. Nash became the majority owner and CEO, and expanded from a mainly construction and industrial base to an electronics-grade manufacturer.
SGE: Why the change in focus?
Novagard: Sarah saw the broader role silicones could play in the manufacturing process. As the world becomes increasingly determined to miniaturize and electrify everything, more companies are looking for world-class protection of their critical components. Silicones, with their superior stability, durability, and flexibility across broad temperature ranges, provide excellent insulation, vibration damping, and barrier protection against weather and other intrusions in electronics applications. Sarah made the strategic decision to embrace these performance advantages, and began a multi-year, multi-million-dollar investment plan in Novagard’s people, plant, and processes.
SGE: How has Novagard responded to the opportunities?
Novagard: R&D became the focus and lifeblood of Novagard. We believe innovation is achieved through collaboration, so we added technical expertise, increased our diversity, and invested in testing equipment that expedites the commercialization process, and can simulate customers’ testing and
manufacturing environments. These changes led to new products across a number of industries that enable our customers to move components to the next step of assembly in seconds rather than days, shaving valuable time off processing, without compromising quality.
SGE: What kind of innovations?
Novagard: Well, we’re manufacturing our 4th generation of UV-cured silicone materials – including a line of revolutionary UV/dual cure coatings that can cure in 3 – 5 seconds. We’re now the market leader in UV/dual cure silicones – high-performance materials where the initial UV reaction cures quickly and is combined with a secondary alkoxy moisture cure that eliminates unreacted coating in shadow areas.
We’re developing conformal coatings for power control systems, UV cure screen printable gaskets, high voltage pottants for medical imaging devices, and high speed, high impact window glazing adhesives.
SGE: How did you become involved in Silicone Expo?
Novagard: Your co-founder, Nathan Reuby, reached out to MK Kister, our VP of Marketing & Product Management, with this fantastic idea: to launch an event that was hyper-focused on silicones. There are a lot of tradeshows that are industry-focused – we do shows around the construction industry, electrical vehicles, and batteries, manufacturing, and assembly – but there’s not an event that caters to the silicone market. Nathan shared his vision of bringing together buyers from all industries with companies across the silicone supply chain. Novagard immediately agreed to become Silicone Expo’s first exhibitor and gold sponsor. And we’ve been involved ever since! Jason Clark, VP of our, Electronics, EV, and Silicone Solutions, joined Silicone Expo’s Advisory Board and also participated in the Amsterdam event earlier this year with our European distributor, Epoxy Technology.
SGE: Supply chains are changing, aren’t they?
Novagard: Definitely. Since COVID, companies have begun to diversify their supply chain as a way to guard against shortages of vital materials. Having second sources of key supplies is critical, and Novagard has a unique value in the silicone world. We’re a woman-owned manufacturer of high-performance materials (WBENC certified as WBE and WOSB). These certifications can provide federal tax incentives and other tax benefits for projects funded by federal or state grants. Savvy purchasers can not only secure a second source with Novagard, but can meet their diversity targets as well.
SGE: Why do you think more engineers are turning to silicone?
Novagard: In addition to how well silicones perform in harsh and demanding environments, how a substance impacts the planet is also a factor for more and more companies when selecting materials. Silicones are environmentally friendly – there’s no outgassing, harmful solvents, or VOCs. Silicone’s durability helps extend the life of a product – keeping consumers happy and waste out of landfills. And with the legislative activities around “forever chemicals”, we’re proud to be able to declare our products PFAS-free.
SGE: The green effect is definitely a factor, isn’t it?
Novagard: Absolutely. Climate change is impacting everyone. The extreme temperatures and weather events this summer were sobering. A lot of companies are looking for ways to minimize their impact on the environment. That’s one reason UV cure and UV/dual cure silicones are an incredibly exciting solution to be able to offer right now. UV curing can help companies shrink their carbon footprint. I mean, think about using a UV lamp rather than a large traditional heat oven for curing. That leads to lower energy costs, less waste, and no harmful fumes to contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. UV LED curing has the potential to cut power use by another order of magnitude.
SGE: Any last words before you get to Detroit?
Novagard: We’re really looking forward to this year’s Expo. We’re excited to be bringing new and innovative silicones with us. We’ll be having live demos in our booth at noon and 2 p.m. both days, partnering with Phoseon to show how quickly conformal coatings and pottants can cure with their UV LED curing. We can’t wait to meet with attendees to learn more about their projects and what challenges they are looking to solve with silicones.