Trexel Inc. announced an agreement with a Japanese molder that means Trexel's microcellular process, MuCell, finally can make parts with a high-gloss surface.
Trexel President David Bernstein said MuCell has won acceptance for making engineered parts that do not require a perfect finish. ``This allows us to probably double the size of the market,'' he said of the breakthrough by Trexel and its partner, Ono Sangyo Co. Ltd. They exhibited at K 2004, held Oct. 20-27 in Dusseldorf.
The combined processes also can eliminate the need for painting.
MuCell works by adding microscopic bubbles to parts made by injection molding and other processes. The bubbles form as the melt goes into the mold.
Ono Sangyo's rapid heat cycle molding (RHCM) process is the one that works with MuCell.
RHCM was originally co-developed by Ono Sangyo and Mitsui Chemicals Inc.
RHCM uses elevated mold temperatures during the injection cycle, followed by rapid cooling. That results in parts with a superhigh-gloss finish, because the parts do not have weld lines or visible flow lines. Ono Sangyo said the high-quality finish comes out even with glass-fiber-reinforced or mineral-filled materials.
Tokyo-based Ono Sangyo, uses specialized molding technologies to make parts for the electronics, automotive, industrial products and food packaging and other consumer markets. At the K show, both companies said that by combining forces, they eliminate ``compromises'' in each of the their respective technologies. The compromise for MuCell is the surface finish. Sink marks were the compromise for RHCM - and a strong point for MuCell.
RHCM patents have been issued or are pending in 14 countries.
Trexel, based in Woburn, Mass., earlier this year installed a MuCell package on a 350-ton Meiki injection press at the Ono Sangyo laboratory in Tokyo.
Target applications include frames for televisions and liquid crystal displays, computer and printer cases, and automotive parts such as cowl vent grills and painted bumper fascia.
It's not a retrofit item. The combined process should be adopted only for new products, with new molds specially designed for the process, according to Trexel and Ono Sangyo. Customers will need to install a standard Trexel equipment package plus an RHCM controller. A license is available that covers the use of both systems.
Trexel will become the demonstration center for North America and Europe. Ono Sangyo will demonstrate the technologies for customers in Asia.
Ono Sangyo will be able to manufacture molds, make parts or license the combined technologies to other plastics processors.