WARREN, MICH. — Auto industry people learned about technology trends, like Takata Corp.'s thinner, lighter airbag cover made by overmolding fiber-reinforced sheet, at a one-day conference at Proper Group International headquarters in Warren.
Proper Group, an automotive mold maker and molder, joined with its machinery partner KraussMaffei Corp., to hold the event June 11.
Takata has developed the HyPac “hybrid plastic airbag cover” for the passenger side. The part offers a 37 percent weight reduction over the current cover — which itself is plastic, molded from glass-fiber reinforced nylon, according to Daniel Alt, senior product engineer for safety systems at Takata in Auburn Hills, Mich.
The reason: Using reinforced organo-sheet molded on a KraussMaffei press with the FiberForm process allows Takata to make a thinner airbag cover, Alt said. A thinner cover also can fit easier in the passenger-side space, he said.
Takata, which is looking for customers that want the HyPac cover, uses Lanxess' Tepex sheet, made from fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites.
KraussMaffei created a work-cell to help develop the airbag cover at its headquarters in Munich. At NPE 2015, and at the event in Warren, KM molded the covers in a CX press with 300 tons of clamping force.
Alt said that working with KM and Lanxess was a key. “It's highly optimized by partner development,” he said.
Alt said the cover is a demanding application. In a crash, the cover has to deform by inner pressure and pull forces, he said.
When Takata designed the organo-sheet cover, engineers used computer simulation to optimize the structure, putting thicker walls where needed and thinning down other areas. Alt said that technique is a common one when trying to reduce part weight — a mandate from the automotive industry, to increase gas mileage.
Alt said Takata validated new Moldflow modeling software for the overmolding of the organo-sheet.
Stephen Beasley, KraussMaffei's regional sales manager for the automotive sector, said the FiberForm technology integrates injection molding and thermoforming. “Today we can offer a composite part out of the mold without secondary operations,” he said
Beasley said the process will be able to make structural automotive parts in the future. He showed attendees a hollow part made of two closed profile sections.