CHICAGO — Delta Tooling Co. and its Swiss partner want to spread the gospel of in-mold lamination to North America.
To do that, Delta, an injection mold maker exhibiting with Krauss-Maffei Corp. (Booth S2932), is creating a showplace for the low-pressure-molding technology at its Auburn Hills, Mich., headquarters.
The company has purchased a horizontal injection press with a clamping force of 1,400 tons from Krauss-Maffei.
The Decoform press will allow Delta to test both traditional injection molded parts and those made using in-mold lamination, said Delta mold sales manager Robert Esling.
Delta also is installing a vertical Decoform press, with similar tonnage, at its facility. That press is on consignment from Krauss-Maffei.
Many of Delta's customers, especially those in the automotive industry, are not extremely familiar with the technology, Esling said during a June 18 interview in Chicago.
"Some of our customers are starting to use it but they don't necessarily want to show it to their competitors," Esling said. "We can be a neutral site to see the technology and take away some excuses for not understanding it."
The process — also called back molding — involves shooting a substrate material behind a cover skin in an open mold. It is used for both injection and compression molding applications.
The technology, frequently used with ABS-polycarbonate blends, reduces laminating and forming a substrate to one step, eliminates the need for adhesives and can be used on a lower-tonnage press, said Thomas Huber, president of GK Tools USA Inc., a Gastonia, N.C.-based sales arm for Georg Kaufmann AG.
Kaufmann, based in Busslingen, Switzerland, signed an agreement in 1996 with Delta to market in-mold lamination in North America. The five-year agreement expires next year, but the parties plan to renew it, Huber said.
Kaufmann, a $15 million company, is one of Europe's largest injection toolmakers.
In-mold lamination has taken off in Europe, where it is used for a variety of interior automotive applications, Huber said. But in North America, work is still evolving.
The companies plan to provide molds for the process. They have several applications in the works, including some interior door panels for an upcoming midsized car program, code-named Epsilon, from General Motors Co., Esling said.
"Installing the press is the next stage in our partnership," Huber said. "Our customers will be able to actually see how well this works."
The molds are also used in other industries, including the backs of office chairs and for foot inserts molded by Moll Industries, Esling said.
The Decoform horizontal press offers both traditional injection molding and in-mold lamination, Esling said. Previously, in-mold lamination was done on vertical presses. But the horizontal machines are more economical and require fewer attached peripherals, Huber added.
At NPE 2000, the press is being introduced for the first time in North America by Krauss-Maffei. After the show, the press will move to Delta.
"We'll offer a turnkey approach, providing both the mold and the process," Esling said.