A series of new injection molding technologies developed by Swiss moldmaker Georg Kaufmann can be used to add even more function to plastic parts, with no secondary work necessary. Parts leave a mold as fully functional systems, to include even having fully integrated heating elements.
At a recent event the moldmaker displayed parts that had decorative plastic and textile surfaces covering sensors that light up at the touch, and parts coated with a semiconductor-filled pigment that turns warm when a current passes through it.
The functional surface technology was on display at last month's Plastics in Automotive Engineering event in Mannheim, Germany. (See other recent coverage from that event including articles on Dow Automotive's Voraforce material for use in rapid resin transfer molding of carbon fiber reinforced parts, RocTool's advances in inductively heated molds for forming automotive interior parts, and our report on a new synthetic fiber from Milliken that can be used to replace talc as a filler.)
According to Markus Haller, director of sales at the moldmaker, who met with PlasticsToday during that event, its new surface functionality molding project has met with great interest among automotive OEMs. The reason won't make many Tier 1 automotive systems suppliers happy as once an OEM is able to make parts with such functionality, it can operate independently of the Tier 1s which, to now, typically have developed high-end multi-material molding technology and sold parts made using this to OEMs. With the Georg Kaufmann model, an OEM could purchase a mold and either do its own captive processing of its systems or install the mold at an injection molders....