Functional surfaces

Georg Kaufmann Formenbau AG (Busslingen, Switzerland) improved its Duo Lamination process for back injection and back injection-compression moulding and built a demonstration mould for the production of moulded parts with functional surfaces (e.g. self-luminous, transparent, heatable, soft-touch) and/or with integrated capacitive sensors. The new production solutions will serve the automotive industry and similar plastics processing applications in other branches of industry, e.g. furniture, sporting goods and household appliances.

For the purpose of putting these themes effectively into practice, Georg Kaufmann Formenbau AG operates within the international PRIMUS Network for Innovation initiated by KraussMaffei. In addition, Kaufmann co-operates with other partners such as raw material producers, lighting system manufacturers and the Technical University of Chemnitz.
The many possibilities of functional surface design will be demonstrated at K2010 by means of specimen mouldings under four surface ambience related themes: Sensor, Touch, Lighting and Surface.

The scope of performance and application of the parts produced with the demonstration mould is exemplified by four surface ambience related themes:
image_thumbAmbient Sensors is the term used for the integration of capacitive sensors in a moulded part. One or several sensors are incorporated underneath the decorative fabric of the outer part of the mouldings.  Simply by touching the sensors (see photo) it is possible to switch on an illuminating system, actuate a window opener or regulate a heater. Such sensors can be used in the household appliance industry for switch-on or switch-over functions.
image_thumb[8] The term Ambient Touch covers all the possibilities of influencing the tactile properties of the moulded part (see second hoto). Besides the differences obtainable between various fabric materials and plastic films, metallic foils feature surfaces that are cold to the touch, while heating foils can render surfaces pleasantly warm. The possible uses for Ambient Touch extend beyond the automotive industry into such areas of application as railway carriage, tramcar and aircraft cabin interiors and also household appliances, furniture and sports and leisure articles, a typical example in the latter case being heated seating for sports stadia.
Ambient Lighting stands for electroluminescent (EL) films or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) which are integrated as coloured luminous elements in the moulded part. This opens up completely new horizons for the design of displays or touch-sensitive keyboards and similar components in terms of both function and form. Ideal areas of application, besides automotive technology, are entertainment electronics and household appliances.
Fast changeover from one decorative material to another comes under the general heading of Ambient Surface. Thus it is possible to produce moulded parts with surfaces of different visual appeal without production interrupt.