Finishing & Screen Printing
KURZ Group and Sumitomo (SHI) Demag show highly efficient IMD process
Monday 11. October 2021 - The all-electric IntElect injection moulding machine from Sumitomo (SHI) Demag is efficient, precise and fast. Visitors to this years 27th Fakuma, which will be held in Friedrichshafen from 12 to 16 October, will be able to see this for themselves.
Together with LEONHARD KURZ, the expert for innovative plastic surface solutions from Fürth, the specialist for plastics processing machinery will be presenting a trend-setting application of in-mould decoration for the vehicle exteriors of tomorrow: The highly efficient “IMD second surface” process will be demonstrated in a live production at the machine manufacturer’s exhibition stand B1-1105. This creates an automotive design badge for the front or rear of the vehicle. In addition to Sumitomo (SHI) Demag and KURZ, the latter’s subsidiary Baier, from which the cleaning station in the machine originates, is also jointly responsible for the successful overall concept, which will be presented at Fakuma.
Highly efficient IMD process combines injection moulding and decoration
“Compared to competitor processes such as painting or physical vapour deposition – PVD for short – the IMD process is significantly more economical and environmentally friendly,” explains Martin Hahn, Head of Application, Technology & Innovation Business Area Plastic Decoration at LEONHARD KURZ, and continues: “The injection moulding process and the decoration process are combined here in a single highly efficient work step, which not only leads to cost and time savings, but also to an intensive reduction in CO2 emissions. We would like to demonstrate this to Fakuma participants by producing an exemplary design badge live at the trade fair.”
There are no limits to design freedom with this innovative process. A wide range of colour variants are possible, as are backlighting effects and the realisation of customer-specific specifications with regard to surface structure – the KURZ mould allows not only single but also multiple cavities – and durability. Thus, component production in the “IMD second surface” process, the end result of which is considered particularly durable, can also be used for tomorrow’s autonomous vehicles. Because: With indium, KURZ has created a radar- and 5G-permeable metallisation option for in-mould decoration that meets the requirements of modern front designs in the automotive sector.
Sustainability as a success factor
By combining two operations in one step, the IMD process is inherently more sustainable than previous manufacturing processes. In addition, the manufacturing process scores with further environmentally friendly aspects. For example, the decorative layers are transferred in the process as a dry paint system, which is why – in contrast to painting – neither wet paint contamination nor post-drying energy have to be accepted. Even the environmentally harmful galvanisation is completely replaced thanks to metallisation in the decoration. The injection moulding machine is fully electric, which means energy savings of about 20 percent compared to a standard machine. In addition, the components produced and decorated in the IMD process using a single image in the classic roll-to-roll process, including the decorative layers, are recyclable. In addition, depending on the customer’s requirements, recycled material can be used in the component production. Two factors that are particularly important for LEONHARD KURZ, as the company is consistently committed to a holistic recycling cycle with its “Lifecycle Thinking”.
Concentrated competence for many years
The process presented at the fair, which exemplifies the application for the exterior area of the automotive industry, is not the first promising concept of the two partner companies. KURZ and Sumitomo (SHI) Demag have been working together for many years. “For this project, too, the entire development process was characterised by outstanding teamwork across company boundaries,” emphasises Martin Hahn. “Extensive know-how and commitment were contributed not only by the various KURZ divisions – for example, Innovation Development and the Design Team – but also by all our partners.” In addition to LEONHARD KURZ and Sumitomo (SHI) Demag, KURZ subsidiary Baier, H&S Kunststofftechnik, Petek Reinraumtechnik and polymer manufacturer Covestro were also responsible for the success of the project.