Jun 11, 2023

R.D. Abbott host students at NovationSi operation in Barberton, Ohio

BARBERTON, Ohio—What do Ohio middle schoolers and rubber industry professionals have in common?

For Barberton Middle School students, the answer is a basic understanding of the similarities and differences between liquid silicone rubber and high-consistency rubber, as well as how the two materials are formed, tested, colored and cured.

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R.D. Abbott Co. Inc., of Garden Grove, Calif., on July 12 hosted a troupe of summer campers at its Northeast Ohio manufacturing subsidiary and research center, known as NovationSi.

About 15 students had the opportunity to tour the 127,000-sq.-ft. facility in Barberton, which sits just outside Akron.

"R.D. Abbott and NovationSi understood that this was a wonderful opportunity to introduce students to manufacturing," said Jean Barbato, senior manager for manufacturing sector partnership at ConxusNEO, an Akron-based non-profit that connects local employers to education and work force development programs. "I keep telling parents that this is not your father's manufacturing, but students need to see for themselves what's out there."

The tour at NovationSi was part of Makers of Tomorrow, a week-long summer program organized in part by Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, whose office for 11 years has collaborated with local organizations to provide manufacturing "summer camp" opportunities.

And R.D. Abbott jumped at the chance to provide a three-hour facility tour.

Employees at NovationSi gave students a look at liquid injection molding processes as well as fabrication, property testing, part inspection and color dispersions in the quality control lab.

Students even got to choose the colors for their own rubber bouncy balls, in the process observing what occurs when a silicone base and a cataylst are combined and cured.

A prize was given to the student whose ball bounced the highest.

Opportunities and careers in all facets of the rubber industry also were discussed with students throughout the afternoon.

"Educating the next generation of rubber industry talent is extremely important to NovationSi and R.D. Abbott," said Bob Bradley, president of NovationSi. "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."

In Summit County, Makers of Tomorrow also provides informational sessions and hands-on activities with other manufacturing firms.

R.D. Abbott, with distribution warehouses throughout North America, is a materials science, engineering and distribution company that has been serving the rubber industry since 1948.

Manufacturing subsidiary NovationSi specializes in LSR compounds; modifiers, additives and colors for silicone; and highly specialized elastomer products.

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