3M Develops Microstructure Tooling For Tail Lens

A thermoformed microstructured plastic is replacing an injected molded lens in the rear tail lamp of the Buick Enclave. The result is more even illumination, greater design

Film-enabled microreplication tooling reduced the number of LEDs in the 2013 Buick Envlave tail lamp. Down the road, look for more design innovation as a result of the new technology.

freedom, reduced part complexity, and a reduction in the number of LEDs required.

It’s the first time a thermoformed plastic inner lens has been used for rear tail lamps.

The technology is made possible by 3M tooling innovations that enable the combination of micro structure and macro structure features, according to Mark Napierala, advanced product development specialist at 3M. The film-making micreplication process enables microstructure size less than 100 microns, which is not possible with injection molding. As a result the lens is thinner, and a weight savings of greater than 50% is achieved.

Polycarbonate for the lens is supplied by Bayer. The patented technology is called 3M Uniform Lighting Lens. 3M developed manufacturing capability to deliver the lenses to Magna as part of a four-year development project.

The lens is a finalist in the Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Innovation Awards program. Winners will be announced at a banquet in Livonia, Mich. Nov. 7.



About Doug Smock

Former Chief Editor at Plastics World and Senior Technical Editor Design News

Automotive, Design, North America, Polycarbonate , , ,

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