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IKV Hybrid machine casts plastics and metal in one production step

Editor: Barbara Schulz

In a cooperation project, researchers have combined a metal die-casting unit with a standard injection moulding machine, which is said to shorten production times and open new possibilities in product design.

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Demonstrator component: A circuit board with contacts produced by IMKS for controlling different electronic components.
Demonstrator component: A circuit board with contacts produced by IMKS for controlling different electronic components.
(Source: IKV)

In a cooperation project with Osram, researchers from the Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV) in Industry and the Skilled Crafts at RWTH Aachen University have succeeded in casting plastic and metal together on a single machine and in a single process step.

Space-saving in-mould labelling system

The machine enables, for example, plastics housings for LED lights to be directly provided with the necessary conductive tracks. This not only shortens the production times, it also opens up new possibilities in product design, the IKV said. The new technology is based on a standard injection moulding machine equipped with an additional newly developed metal die-casting unit.

Integrated metal/plastic injection moulding

From TV sets to pocket torches, electronic products made of plastic are nowadays part of our everyday lives. To optimise the manufacture of such items, IKV has, as part of the Cluster of Excellence “Integrative production technology for high-wage countries”, been working on the development of a new hybrid processing technology called “Integrated metal/plastic injection moulding” (IMKS). It allows the manufacture of electrically conductive plastic/metal components on a single machine in an injection moulding tool without any upstream or downstream processing steps.

In a cooperation project with Osram, the project partners IKV, KraussMaffei and the Krallmann Group have now developed an industrially feasible production process for plastic/metal hybrid parts for electronic applications. According to the IKV, the main objective for the research team was to evolve a strategy for integrating the low-melting solder into visible components. One particular area of focus was the contacts between the electrical inserts and the different contact surfaces and geometries.

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