Now that MuCell is a proven technology, David Bernstein wants companies to design parts with MuCell in mind. If that happens, he said, they could reduce part weight by 30 percent over standard injection molding.
Trexel Inc. continues to market the list of advantages of its MuCell technology, including faster cycle times, lighter parts and lower injection pressure. Bernstein calls that phase one of MuCell molding. But next comes phase two: incorporating MuCell into upfront part design.
MuCell's use of microcellular bubbles means a processor can mold parts on smaller injection presses with lower clamping forces. That allows you to design parts with 25 percent less weight before you even start to foam. And then when you foam you add another 6 or 7 percent to that, he said.
A year ago, Japanese automaker Mazda Motor Corp. announced it had patented ways to combine MuCell foaming technology with a core-back expansion molding process to produce multilayer parts and control the structure of the foam. The technique makes auto parts that are lighter but have equal or even greater strength and rigidity than conventional non-foamed plastic parts, Mazda said.
The automaker also said the process can control the foam's structure to improve heat insulation and acoustic performance.
In phase two, when they understand what the true capability of the technology is, they should be thinking of 30 percent weight reductions as a normal part of what they do, Bernstein said.
An example of designing for MuCell is a door panel substrate for the Mercedes Benz E-Class. MuCell allows for significant weight savings, a thinner wall for the panel, improved dimensional stability of the part and reduced cycle times, according to Trexel.
The molder, Johnson Controls Inc., also took advantage of MuCell's lower injection pressures to inject foamed material behind a polypropylene thin film in one step, to produce an integrated map pocket.
In June, Johnson Controls won the automotive interior award for the door panel from the Society of Plastics Engineers' Central Europe Section.
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