During the past 10 years, TI Automotive has shifted from a division of a large global conglomerate to an independent company, and just in the past year successfully worked out a debt-for-equity swap that allowed it to establish itself on firmer financial ground.
And now the Warren, Mich.-based company is shifting its manufacturing and product line to meet the demands of its customers in a changed auto industry as the makers of hybrids and other partial electric vehicles look for changes in their blow molded fuel tanks.
Using its Tank Advance Process Technology, TI is telling customers it can build tanks that carmakers want for their future vehicles, said Brian Hildebrand, engineering director for TI.
The new tanks will help the entire industry as it brings a wider range of vehicles to the market, he said at the Society of Plastics Engineers 2010 Annual Blow Molding Conference, held Oct. 5 in Atlanta.
The makers of hybrids and other quiet vehicles are re-creating tanks to minimize the sound of fuel moving in the tank when the car itself is operating in nearly silent modes. That means they want pressurized inner tanks, baffles or other systems engineered inside fuel tanks. But at the same time, those tanks must continue to meet strict emissions requirements.
TI can use TAPT to meet both sound and emissions demands, he said.
The company first began using TAPT which opens the mold part way through molding to robotically insert valves and other components inside the tank to capture the emissions that could seep out from seals and welds. The mold then closes to complete the cycle.
This process gives us a lot of flexibility in the process to move forward, Hildebrand said. We can insert more as it's needed.
The company now believes it can meet the requirements for a quieter tank by inserting structures to stop fuel from sloshing around in the tank, or even create an inner blow molded tank inside the multilayer standard tank. The honeycomb structure would provide both the emission and noise control carmakers need, Hildebrand said.
The company is talking with automakers' engineers now to consider the tank-within-a-tank proposal, he said.