Processing Magazine

Just-introduced molding process combines thermoplastic and reaction injecting in a single tool

April 4, 2012

Just introduced in North America, a new, one-step molding process is said to allow manufacturers to more efficiently produce parts with customizable color, texture and softness. Its developers say “DirectSkinning Technology,” from Bayer, Proper Group International and KraussMaffei, “creates distinct, luxurious products with a customizable look and feel.”

The process “offers a competitive advantage to manufacturers, as it produces a more complete product out of the same mold. Furthermore, by taking the traditional two-step process and simplifying it into a one-step process, overall time is reduced, which translates into greater efficiencies and cost savings for manufacturers,” Joe Grippe, VP, Proper Group International, says.

The technology combines conventional thermoplastic injection molding with reaction-injection molding in a single tool – delivering a hard polycarbonate blend substrate with soft, ultraviolet-stabilized, scratch- and chemical-resistant aliphatic polyurethane self-skinning foam or polyurethane coating, the companies say.

By integrating polyurethanes processing into the injection-molding machine, increased production efficiency and outstanding part properties is said to be achieved. The ultra-low volatile organic compound process also eliminates the need for painting and the associated overspray common to traditional in-mold painting. The developers describe the technology as ideal for manufacturers in diverse consumer and industrial markets – for example, high-end cases for electronic devices, arm rests for seating, etc. – that are seeking a cost-effective, high-end product.

Previously, multiple steps were required to mold a hard substrate, such as polycarbonate, with a finish that felt soft. Conventionally, manufacturers would first mold the hard substrate and then load it into another piece of equipment where a soft finish was applied. The just introduced technology was developed to shorten this process.

“We’re bringing this technology to market as a turnkey solution,” said Ignacio Osio, demand creation manager, Bayer MaterialScience LLC, who points out this technology has already been proven in Europe. “Because we are offering a complete solution – materials, molds, molding equipment and expertise – OEMs in North America can feel confident integrating this process into their manufacturing operations.”

The overall manufacturing cell consists of components of the KraussMaffei product line, a CX 200-750 Hybrid injection molding machine with LRX 150 linear robot, and a RimStar Hybrid 1.2/0.9 polyurethane mixing and metering station with a high-pressure mixing head MK 5/8 ULKP-2 KKV-F installed on the injection mold and a reworking station for separating the gate points. These multi-component machines provide manufacturers with higher production efficiency.