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 just turned 40 years old and I have been working as a Material Development Engineer in Forsheda, Sweden, for the past five years.
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?
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?
We act as support for the rest of the company on matters concerning quality, but most of our work is about compound recipes. There can be 10-15 ingredients in a rubber compound. They all affect the properties of the compound and they are all there for a reason, so you have to find the right balance to get the right properties.
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 that the customer wants.
Are you working on any exciting projects at the moment?
Yes, several. For example, we are in the process of trying to lower the density of a sponge rubber compound. The aim is to modify the compound and make it lighter, while retaining the desired properties – and that’s certainly a challenge!
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 have to choose which properties are more important. It gives you a really 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 I live in the countryside. So I spend my leisure time with my family and I also like to go hunting with my dog, a German spaniel.
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.
Elin Klovhall, compounder