One of the particularly innovative exhibits at NPE20912 held in Orlando, FL last week was an automotive interior console with touchpad controls – no buttons or switches.
It was a demonstration of Engel’s clearmelt technology and the integration of a capacitive foil using in-mold labeling.
“This trend not only gives automotive interior designers a new level of freedom, it also reduces the cost of producing functional elements,” says Mark Sankovitch, president of Engel North America (York, PA). “We are already talking to various OEMs and automotive companies. In four to five years, the first vehicles will be equipped with this sensitive surface technology,” adds Franz Füreder, head of Engel Automotive, Schwertberg, Austria.
Engel presented the exhibit in cooperation with various system partners, including processor Magna Exterior & Interior Systems (Munich, Germany).
A duo 350 injection molding machine produced the piano black center consoles at NPE2012 in the first showing of this new size of the duo in North America. Using spin-stack technology, the thermoplastic center console top carrier made of ABS-PC is injected while the pre-molded part created in the previous cycle is overmolded with polyurethane in the second half of the mold.
This process is based on the Engel combi M method but with a polyurethane system connected to the mold, instead of a second injection unit. The capacitive foil is insert-placed into the mold before injecting the first component.
The primary task of the polyurethane in the Engel clearmelt process is protection of the part’s class A surface against chemical and mechanical exposure.