This work in WP5 is based on a technology previously developed by Lightmotif that enables laser ablation of micro- and nanoscale features on 3D curved moulds by ultrashort pulsed lasers. Lightmotif and CRF cooperate with the goal to obtain a method that enables the production of polymer parts for car interiors with added functionality due to a micro- and nano-textured surface, achieved by a textured mould. The surfaces should show a soft-touch effect that results from a largely reduced contact area of skin and polymer part. Besides the haptic properties of the surface other relevant aspects like aesthetic properties of the textures should be optimised.
The objective for the third year was to validate the manufacturing process of real automotive parts with soft-touch surfaces. For this purpose, a mould insert for a real automotive part was selected: a ‘glovebox’ element of a Fiat Grande Punto dashboard. Besides serving for validation and demonstration, the injection moulded parts were also used to assess the influence of the texture angle on the release properties of the textured parts out of the mould.
Lightmotif applied four earlier optimised textures in different curved areas to the three mould inserts. The textures were applied under varying angles of inclination, which can help to release the pillar textures out of the mould surface.
Analysis of the injection moulded parts showed that the release of parts moulded was not limited by damage during the demoulding process. The analysis of the functional (soft-touch) properties showed very similar results on these 3D curved parts as compared to the earlier tested flat parts.
HOW TO EXPLOIT?
Utilisation of picosecond lasers in texturing of moulds for automotive interior parts offers freedom of designs. This new technology enables texturing of surfaces with features at the micro and nanoscale. Such surfaces can exhibit functional properties like superhydrophobicity, anti-glare, soft-touch and others.
This method is more environmentally friendly compared to traditional mould texturing by etching method as using of hazardous acids is avoided during the process. Using of laser micro-texturing allows mimicking etched surfaces, for example like the leather imitation textures, but it also allows to incorporate new functional properties by laser applied functional surface textures.
Lightmotif develops and sells 5-axis laser machining systems for mould texturing and micromachining on 3D curved surfaces.
Partners: BUAS, LUMENTUM, LIGHTMOTIF, CRF