The latest in efforts to replace painted interior automotive parts with in-mold decorating (IMD) will be shown in the Engel booth at K2016 in Düsseldorf, Germany Oct. 19-26.
In the DecoJect approach, the film is punched out and stays on the component, allowing surface structure and haptics as well as color and pattern. In other systems, the paint is transferred from the film onto the part.
The technology will be shown in a fully automated production cell on a duo 5160/1000 injection molding machine making Mucell-foamed door panels with a leather grain.
Following part removal, the DecoJect thin film is drawn in, heated by an IR radiator located in the gripper and preformed directly in the mold with the aid of a vacuum system. The film is then immediately back-molded and punched out before the robot removes the component and transfers it to an integrated laser station for fine trimming. A ready-to-fit component leaves the production cell every 60 seconds.
Designs can be changed with roll replacement, making smaller batches more economical, according to Engel.
The polypropylene film in the demonstration comes from Benecke-Kaliko (Hannover, Germany), which belongs to Continental technology group.
Other partners in the technology demonstration include Georg Kaufmann Formenbau of Busslingen, Switzerland, the Galvanoform Gesellschaft für Galvanoplastik in Lahr in southern Germany, hot runner manufacturer HRSflow, headquartered in San Polo di Piave, Italy, ICO System International in Lüneburg, Germany, and Borealis headquartered in Vienna, Austria.
One of the challenges in mold technology was very fine controllability of the electric valve gate drives.