The combination of a newly developed plastic compound and an innovative mold heating technology called e-mold is saving Ford $13 per vehicle on metallic appearance interior surface panels on the 2015 Mondeo.
The new approach avoids paint infrastructure, including booths, lines, and tracks, creating environmental benefits as well. The cosmetics of the center stack panels are also improved through reduction of paint-related defects such as orange peel and delamination.
The compound used for the application is Samsung’s Luminous LX-1098, a polycarbonate/ABS alloy. The shape and size of metallic particles in the compound and the amount of particles used are said to improve overall metallic appearance of the finished part.
Uniform reflection is achieved through optimized homogeneous metallic orientation and distribution. A flow-enhancement additive is added to decrease flow marks and metallic flake “line-up” at the melt front.
Another important aspect of the process is use of targeted heating of the tool surface to eliminate appearance defects such as knit lines, flow marks, gate blush, and splay. Electrical heating elements are strategically placed and grouped in the tool’s cavity to elevate its surface temperature above that generally used.
The heating process is called e-mold, and was developed by NADA Innovation of Chungnam, South Korea. In e-mold (e stands for electricity), a specific cavity surface area is heated to as high as 300ºC within 15 seconds and then cooled to 15ºC after 30 seconds of charging.
NADA Innovation is a collaboration involving Korea’s Soon Chunhyang University. The company sells controls and tools, and also licenses its technology.
The process works best with tooling modifications. Optimized gate and runner design eliminates gate blush and flow lines. Timed injection with sequential valve gates enables uniform resin knitting. Another requirement is a venting channel to releases excess gas generated by the elevated tool temperature. The tool supplier is Michael Tool & Mold (Windsor) of Oldcastle, Ontario. The molder is Key Plastics, Löhne, Germany. Key Plastics is based in Northville, Michigan. The system supplier is the IAC Group in Basildon, England. IAC is headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany.
The product development team at Ford included Junko Pauken, Mike Sun, Robert Bedard, Derren Woods, Chuck Rocco, Chris Boese, Mike Masserant, Todd George, Barton Dmytro, Jane Zhou, and Rose Petrella.
The application is an entry in this year’s Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Innovation Competition. Winners will be announced at a banquet in Livonia, Michigan on Nov. 12.