For most manufacturers, reducing time to market in the product-development cycle can mean the difference between a product’s success and failure in the marketplace. A good example is the electronics industry, where the average life span of a device is less than 18 months, and subcomponent suppliers are expected to move quickly to meet the demands of manufacturers. The average time to market of 18 months is simply too long for an electronics manufacturer to wait for a new adhesive that will improve device performance.

The R2S2 Facility

In response to the time-sensitive needs of today’s manufacturers, Loctite Corporation designed and built its 43,000-sq-ft Rapid Response Small Scale (R2S2) manufacturing facility to deliver adhesive solutions to customers in just 45 days or less. Housed in the facility are both research and development, and small-scale manufacturing. New adhesive formulations come directly from Loctite chemists to the R2S2 facility process labs and pilot plant where the manufacturing process is devised and implemented.

According to Jerry Perkins, director of general industrial marketing at Loctite, “By developing and testing products at a single site, we are able to rapidly standardize adhesives and bring them to market more quickly than ever before. At R2S2, total production time for new adhesives, from initial formulation to delivery, does not exceed 45 days.”

Unique to electronic adhesive manufacturing and packaging is a 1,000-sq-ft clean room where all Loctite underfills, dam and fills, and glob-top encapsulants are manufactured and packaged, ensuring the purity of adhesives with filler particles smaller than 13 microns.

“Our Class 10,000 clean room is completely dedicated to microelectronics adhesive manufacturing and packaging, and, to the best of our knowledge, is the only one of its kind in the adhesives industry,” says Jim Heaton, Loctite director of electronic marketing. “Manufacturing and packaging under Class 10,000 conditions guarantees the consistency, dispersion and size of the fillers that are critical to the performance of our microelectronics adhesives.”

Consistency Guaranteed

All manufacturing processes within the facility are monitored from a fully computerized control room where customized computer programs implement each step of the production process and keep detailed batch records. Automated production eliminates batch variability and human error, and increases the efficiency of the process and the consistency of the products. All mixing equipment within the R2S2 facility was custom-designed to replicate the mixing equipment used in Loctite facilities around the world. This guarantees the consistency of every batch manufactured at the R2S2 facility and allows production to be easily transferred to other manufacturing sites around the world as demand for particular products increases. Minimum batch size for the mixing equipment on site is 10 kilos.

Located 1.5 miles from the Loctite North American headquarters in Rocky Hill, Conn., the facility is the first of three planned R2S2 sites. Two additional facilities will be located adjacent to existing Loctite research and development facilities in Dublin, Ireland, and Yokohama, Japan. These two facilities are scheduled to open by mid-1999. The three R2S2 centers will have identical equipment and will be linked via computer, making possible the precise simulation of global manufacturing processes. The networked computer system will allow engineers around the world to watch processes as they happen, and to immediately download and utilize process information at facilities throughout the world.

Loctite Corporation is a worldwide, market-driven specialty chemical company. Principal markets include electronics, industrial, specialized, medical and automotive. A subsidiary of Henkel KGaA, Loctite Corporation’s world headquarters are in Hartford, Conn.