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Resins light the way for auto builders

01 April 2009

Contemporary automotive design has seen the growing importance of the lamp bezel as a key styling feature. Whether the demand is for metallic, textured or body-colour, there are special effects resins to help designers ensure that their products stand out from the crowd

Direct metallisation of moulded plastic parts is a widely used process for creating stunning lightweight lighting bezels, as Ford’s 2009 North American Truck of the Year award-winning Ford F-150 demonstrates. The company, together with Automotive Components Holding, selected Sabic Innovative Plastics’ Valox V2000DM PBT resin for its stylish, metallic-looking rear lamp bezel, as Sabic’s jim Wilson recalls.

“Achieving brilliantly shiny, reflective bezels for automotive lighting is critical for driving efficiency and style. Ford set the bar very high for the F-150 rear bezel, and our Valox V2000DM resin rose to the challenge. This does an excellent job replicating a highly polished tool surface and delivers parts with an exceptional mirror-like shine after metallisation.”

The direct metallisation process involves vacuum deposition of a thin aluminium layer on an injection-moulded part. The challenge is to achieve an exceptional surface finish on the moulded part prior to metallisation, because the ultra-thin aluminum layer cannot disguise underlying surface defects.

The V2000DM resin formulation ensures that moulded parts closely replicate a highly polished tool while maintaining a wide processing window and enhanced de-moulding. As a result, the moulded parts provide high gloss and a near-flawless smooth surface prior to metallisation.

Tool deposit, resulting from condensation of additives and other constituents on the tool surface, demands periodic tool cleaning in order to ensure consistency of mould part quality. The same technology essential to high-quality surface finish also enables the Valox resin to help minimise tool deposit, or mould plate-out as it is sometimes termed, which is a common problem with polyester materials.

An important environmental benefit of the direct metallisation process is the ability to recycle scrap, short shots and other waste plastic from the moulding process. As Valox V2000DM resin provides a high-quality surface finish in the first place, it does not require painting or coating to improve aesthetics prior to metallisation. Therefore, scrap can be reground and reused instead of going to landfill.

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