FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, GERMANY — With a theme of “Best-Price-Production, Germany,” injection molder Varioplast Konrad Däbritz GmbH of Ötisheim, Germany, showed its Instachrome and Instantcoat processes for decorated moldings at Fakuma in Friedrichshafen last month.
The Instantchrome process offers a more ecologically acceptable alternative to conventional Chrome 6 plating by making use of the Plasticoater equipment from Impact Coatings AB in Linköping, Sweden, to apply nanoscale Chrome 3 and other metallic coatings to plastic moldings with the PVD vapor deposition process.
Varioplast CEO Michael Dämbritz showed examples of PVD-coated moldings that obtain metal surfaces with day-and-night design by laser etching characters and symbols in the metal coated surface, followed by UV lacquering. The first serial production process started one week after Fakuma 2014, in a clock pointer for the new Volkswagen Passat.
Däbritz said UV-resistant lacquer is used for this application, even though the pointer is behind glass, as the lacquer also acts as a hard coat to provide scratch resistance.
The Instantcoat process involved printing and spray-painting after molding, with laser etching of characters and symbols used in the Instantcoat Plus process version. This is a complex production process involving two injection molding machines, two pad-printing colors and various cutting, pressing and joining tools all linked together into a fully automatic process chain.
Varioplast says Instantcoat has a typical cycle time of 30 minutes, while conventional processes need several days.
Däbritz said the process is used for instrument pointers on the Smart car. He added that Varioplast supplies spray-painted and laser-etched moldings used as day-and-night design parts on a control unit mounted on the interior roof area of the BMW Mini.