Elin Klovhall, a compound expert, talks to us about her experience
Compounder Elin Klovhall says mixing optimum compounds for sealing profiles is a question of getting the balance of ingredients right – a challenge she describes as “complicated and fun.”
Tell us something about yourself
I have been working as a Material Development Engineer in Forsheda, Sweden since 2012, before that I worked as a production technician.
Have you always worked with materials?
Yes, my background is in chemistry. I have a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering and before joining Trelleborg I worked on polymers, mostly plastics.
How is working on rubber compared to plastic?
I think rubber is far more interesting than plastic! I worked mainly with polyethylene and all we did was heat it up, change the shape and cool it down again. Rubber is a compound, there are more ingredients and things change in the material during vulcanization – it involves more chemistry.
What is your main task as a compounder?
Most of our work is about compound recipes. There can be more than 15 ingredients in a rubber compound. They all affect the properties of the compound and they are all there for a reason, so you must find the right balance to get the right properties.
As a compounder I also act as support for the rest of the company on matters concerning quality, purchasing and environmental issues for example.
How is your work organized?
I am given a compound specification from the customer, but if it’s a project to create something new it’s more of a collaboration with the customer. But the goal is always the same: to provide a compound with the qualities and properties that the customer needs.
Are you working on any exciting projects at the moment?
Yes, several. For example, we are in the process of developing a compound to be used in dampers. The demand of this product is very high. We are almost at the finish line, but some minor improvements still have to be done.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your work?
Finding the right balance for a compound. Mostly you start with a known basic recipe and then modify it. You know what you want but finding the right combination of ingredients can be challenging. It’s always a compromise. You can’t have it all, so you must choose which properties are more important. It gives you a good feeling when you have made the right compromises and found the balance. It’s complicated and fun.
What do you like most about working at Trelleborg?
I work with a team of great colleagues and working here always gives you opportunities to learn more. Rubber is a huge and fascinating area and I have learned a lot already, but even if you have worked here 20 or 30 years you will still be learning.
What do you do in your free time?
I have four children and me and my family lives in the countryside together with our three horses and two dogs. So, I spend my leisure time with my family and I also like to go riding and hunting.