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Johnson Controls has successfully employed the MuCell Process in conjunction with other advanced technologies to produce the door panel carrier for the Mercedes Benz E-Class to win the Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Interiors Award.
The MuCell Microcellular Foam technology is a complete process and equipment technology that enables the production of plastic parts. MuCell Technology involves the use of precisely metered quantities of atmospheric gases (nitrogen or carbon dioxide) in any of the three most common thermoplastic conversion processes (injection moulding, extrusion, blow moulding) to create millions of nearly invisible microcells in the end product.
Manufacturers claim that the creation of these microcellular structures brings a wide array of benefits including reduced weight, reduced material usage and reduced production costs.
The MuCell process is primarily employed in the injection molding process to produce lower cost precision parts with a consistently high quality and exceptional dimensional stability, where foaming has not historically been deployed.
Dr. Hartmut Traut, European Director for Trexel commented, “Johnson Controls’ innovation strategy was to utilize the MuCell process to enable other technologies. The company’s ability to use the MuCell process to take advantage of many advanced design rules proves that higher quality products have cost and weight saving potentials.”
Johnson Controls say that the MuCell Process not only allowed for significant weight-savings, as well as a thinner wall design for the door panel, but also provided improved dimensional stability while reducing cycle times.
The company were able to use low injection pressures by using the MuCell Process to inject foamed material behind a PP Thin Film in a single injection step, thereby eliminating problems associated with a second processing step. JCI was able to mould thinner wall sections in the map pocket, while meeting all performance specifications.
By using MuCell technology, Johnson Controls say they gained several advantages: thinner wall construction through lower resin viscosity; rib to wall ratios of 1:1 thereby reinforcing thinner wall construction without creating sink marks; and the elimination of requiring the application of pack and hold pressure with high clamp tonnage requirement, thereby creating a friendlier environment for in-mould decorating.
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