Innovative Infra-Red Emitters Optimise the Manufacture of Vehicle Interior Fittings Using Vacuum Lamination

 Precisely matched infra-red systems from Heraeus Noblelight are helping to provide significant improvements in the production of the interior fitting of motor vehicles at equipment and technology suppliers, 3CON, of Ebbs, Austria, The use of Heraeus infra-red emitters to assist the vacuum laminating technology is reducing cycle times by five seconds, liberating several square meters of valuable floor space and saving up to 30% in energy costs.

3CON develops and manufactures tool- and plant technology for the manufacture of car interior fittings such as door cladding, instrument panels and many other parts. As a truly international, technology leader, 3CON supplies all prestigious OEMs and Tier 1 companies in the automobile sector. It is a leading manufacturer of vacuum laminating plant for motor vehicle applications.

Doors, central consoles and instrument panels are just some of the interior fittings of a car which are made of plastic or natural fibre carrier, coated with a foam foil. The adhesive system is first applied to the foil or the natural fibre carrier. By using vacuum laminating technology, the foil is then laminated onto the carrier backing and

3CON is using Heraeus infra-red emitters for the heating of PVC foil and thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO).

A series of tests carried at 3CON identified the infra-red emitters which perfectly matched both the applied foils and the emitter control system developed by 3CON. The result was a reduction in cycle time by around five seconds and a targeted penetrative heating or surface heating, to comply with the adhesive system used. Previously, the fused silica emitters usually required a standby control system to provide a permanent pre-heating of around 30% and this is not necessary with the modern, fast response medium wave emitters. These are switched on only when heat is actually required. Consequently, the ambient surroundings ate not needlessly warmed, resulting in significant energy savings.

Not least, the change-over to the modern emitters has allowed a considerable space saving. Before, the heaters had to be be removed from under the foil to prevent overheating or damage to the foil in the event of an emergency stoppage. Because of their smaller mass, the fast response medium wave emitters cool down very quickly when switched off and their removal is no longer necessary. As a result, the six square metres formerly required as a parking area has now been freed up.

As Georg Schemmerer, 3CON’s marketing manager, enthuses “In contrast to the old design, fused silica emitters which we used previously, the Heraeus emitters heat the foils much faster and, at the same time, save an enormous amount of energy and foil material. That is a huge technical advance for this application which has been on the market for a long time.”

Heraeus specialises in the production and application of high quality energy sources covering the electro-magnetic spectrum from ultraviolet to infra-red. It has over 40 years experience in infra-red technology and offers the expertise, products and systems to provide efficient and effective solutions to drying, heating and curing problems throughout industry.

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