Daimler Chrysler initiated ‘Triple C’ (Compound, Characterisation and Consistency) as a multi-disiplinary project to make improvements, install traceability systems and increase transparency along the SMC supply chain.
In short, to try and reach the levels of surface quality and productivity of steel. Other partners in the programme, which began last February were: Menzolit-Fibron (compound producer), Peguform (moulder) and DSM Composite Resins (supplier of the class A resin system). The project set out to demonstrate the suitability of SMC Compounds for high series class A, on-line paintable exterior body panel applications. Using the Mercedes CL Coupe decklid as a reference model, all key factors and process steps were studied for optimum performance. Sophisticated and powerful software tools, data warehousing and data mining, were used for processing all the complex data that together constitutes the SMC chain.
Quality and consistency are vital in compound production and moulding: especially when it comes to exterior body panels for the automotive industry. Automotive OEMs have to be particularly discriminating to ensure that highly visible and functional parts such as the decklid are of a consistent high quality with minimal rejects.
The Triple C project took each stage of the process – from resin and compound formulation and production through to the finished moulded and painted Class A part, making evaluations and taking corrective measures where necessary. This involved the establishment of an integrated process control and optimisation process, generating know-how that will ultimately lead to the introduction of a Premium SMC quality for automotive exterior applications.
Thanks to the system approach of the Triple C project, the capability of SMC for high series class A, on-line paintable exterior body panel applications in Premium quality has been demonstrated. The first phase is now complete and quality-monitoring systems have been developed. Phase two, which will see the development of methodology and tools, is now underway.
Dr. Thomas Schuh, Manager Body Polymer Components at Daimler Chrysler, commented: ‘Advanced design freedom and possibility to integrate antenna systems have been the main reasons for introducing SMC with the decklid of the Mercedes CL Coupe. The extraordinary requirements regarding surface quality called for the development of a SMC at premium level. The ‘Triple C approach’ is an important step towards enabling the SMC industry to produce premium quality at higher volume. Thus creating a chance for new markets in the area of high quality exterior body panels.
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