International Colloquium Plastics Technology

IKV demonstrates current research activities

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In-Mould Metal Spraying

Philipp Ochotta gave interested journalists a preview of his paper on "In-Mould Metal Spraying (IMMS)". It combines injection moulding with thermal metal spraying to produce plastic parts with metallic surfaces. In a first step, a metal layer is applied by thermal spraying to selective areas of the cavity surface in the injection moulding tool (in-mould). In the next step, this metal coating is backmoulded with plastic. The metal layer and the plastic are subsequently demoulded together as a plastic component with an integrated partial metal surface. Compared with the established processes for metallising plastic injection-moulded parts – such as PVD coating, the use of electrically conductive plastic compounds, and the overmoulding of metal lattices – the new integrative process approach allows greater design freedom combined with very good electrical properties.

The new IMMS process opens up a wide variety of applications in the fields of electronics and electrical engineering, decoration and heat management. Conceivable would be, for example, the production of engine-regulating devices made of plastic with an integrated electromagnetic shield. Interior parts in the automotive industry could be provided with a partial metal surface to generate a "cool touch" effect, and injection-moulded cooling elements could achieve a higher cooling performance through a metallised outer skin.

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Under the leadership of Julian Schild, the IKV is carrying out research into the combination of thermoforming and injection moulding processes in cooperation with the Institute of Forming Technology and Lightweight Construction (IUL) at TU Dortmund University. The project involves forming the metal sheet inserts and moulding the plastic part simultaneously to give the component its final geometry.

With the help of a combined mould technology, the metal is shaped both by the closing motion of the injection moulding machine and by the injection pressure of the plastic melt. Using this process, it is possible to shape metal inserts with a thickness of up to 2.0 mm. One of the requirements of this combination process is the use of a cohesive joining technique with the help of a cohesive or bonding agent.

Other highlights of the tour through the IKV in Aachen included:

"Making parts lighter with thermoplastic foams" - IKV study focuses on improving surface quality through variothermal mould temperature control

"Controlling solidification processes in plastics" - IKV researches modelling and process control in injection moulding as part of SFB 1120

"Homogeneous film thickness through simulation of the pre-distributor" - IKV studies potential for improving wall thickness distribution in blown film extrusion

"Lightweight construction through long fibre-reinforced thermoplastics" - IKV researches variothermal mould technology in compression moulding and integrative strength analysis in injection moulding