Lanxess works to improve the plastic-metal hybrid technology.
Plastic metal hybrid technology is an established method for manufacturing lightweight structural components developed by Lanxess.
This technology systematically combines the advantages of metal and plastic. It has been used for many years to manufacture automotive parts like front ends, pedal boxes and brake pedals. This hybrid technology includes glass fibre reinforced polyamide 6 for injection moulding. Also a steel or aluminium sheet as a metal component.
Lanxess has now extended the use of its hybrid technology. They shift to metallic hollow profiles with round or rectangular cross-sections. “Compared to sheet metal, hollow profiles show significantly higher dimensional stability. It also shows increased torsional strength and stiffness,” explains Lukas Schröer. Lukas Schröer is the Project Manager for lightweight structures in the High-Performance Materials (HPM) business unit. “We believe that this new ‘Hollow Profile Hybrid Technology’ enables the manufacturing of components such as cross-car beams. Up until now were not resilient enough using classic plastic-metal hybrid technology.”
For its hollow profile hybrid technology, Lanxess developed an economical, one-step process that has to meet multiple challenges: “It needs to be possible to smoothly and fully automatically place the metal inserts into the injection molding tool. Due to their production process, this metal inserts exhibit dimensional tolerances, which can damage the tool. In case of undersized inserts leaks in the tool system may result,” explains Boris Koch, a hybrid technology specialist in the HPM business unit’s technical application development.
The metal insert has to be supported to avoid the profile to collapse. This is due to the high levels of melt pressure during the injection moulding process. Another challenge was creating a long-lasting, form-fitting bond between the plastic and the metal in all directions. According to Koch: “The result of our development work is a process that is suitable for large-scale production. It only requires an investment in standard injection molds and machines and makes short cycle times just like standard injection molding possible. It is just as simple as the classic hybrid technology using metal sheets.”