The DVD video bezel frame in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class luxury sedan uses a molding foaming process to achieve dimensional stability, reduce warpage, lower weight and cut costs.
It’s a sign of the increasing penetration, particularly in automotive, for Trexel’s MuCell microcellular foam injection molding technology, which was first developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The MuCell process involves the controlled use of gas in its supercritical state to create a foamed part.
MuCell applications began growing rapidly four years ago when Trexel dropped a licensing requirement. Instead Trexel bases its business on the sale of equipment. And increasingly, machinery manufacturers are sales agents.
Injection molding machinery manufacturers who can now provide a MuCell-ready molding machine are Arburg, Demag, Engel, Haitian, Husky, JSW, KraussMaffei (including Netstal), Milacron, Mitsubishi, Nissei, Toshiba and Toyo. OEMs that can provide a complete MuCell molding system including the Trexel SCF dosing equipment: Arburg, Engel, KraussMaffei, JSW and Milacron.
As a result of the Milacron partnership, which was just announced, customers can purchase a complete MuCell automotive blow molding cell from Uniloy Milacron. Since the blow molding capability was announced at K2013, there have been three new automotive blow molding applications for MuCell, Trexel CEO Steve Braig told The Molding Blog.
Injection molding applications are still the bread and butter for MuCell and the Mercedes bezel frame illustrates the reasons why.
The foamed part replaces a two-part design featuring multi-layer painting. The new approach cuts weight 40 percent while reducing costs 20 percent. Appearance is improved with the RocTool Variotherm mold heating technology. The material is a polycarbonate/ABS alloy from Bayer MaterialScience. The part is molded by Groupe Plastivaloire (PVL) of France for Johnson Controls.
The technology is a finalist in the Society of Plastics Engineers’ Automotive Division’s 44th-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition. Category winners and the Grand Award winner will be announced tomorrow evening at an awards banquet.