By Rhoda Miel, Plastics News staff
Detroit, Michigan – Johnson Controls Inc. is looking across a variety of plastics production capabilities and new ways to combine them for the next generation of auto interiors.
With its Compression Hybrid Molding process technology – or CHyM, pronounced "chime" – the auto supplier would combine the best of compression moulding of natural-filled composites with injection moulding. The resulting part could reduce a door panel's weight by 40 percent, the company said in its 14 Jan debut of the technology and other concepts at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
JCI also is looking at ways to use plastics for structural seat components and seeking to use in-mould film technology to provide a lightweight alternative to interior electronic displays.
"What used to be simple plastic surfaces now can become electronic carrying areas," said Han Hendricks, vice president of advanced product development for JCI's automotive electronics and interiors group.
Hendricks and his team are at the heart of a move within Johnson Controls to push forward new technology and products in its global automotive group. The firm – with automotive headquarters in Plymouth, Michigan, and design and development centers in Holland, Michigan; Burscheid, Germany; and Shanghai – sees the group as a way to get new products on the market faster, said William Jackson, corporate vice president and president of the electronics, interiors, operations and innovations unit.
The CHyM process and use of a suspended fabric cover allow the door panel to fit flush against the instrument panel when the door is closed, rather than requiring a 6- to 8- millimeter gap between the parts.
"Currently the way we [make natural-fibre door panel substrates] is that we make a fibre mat, then we compression mould it, then trim it and then back-injection mould it," Jackson said. "[With CHyM] technology, we roll form the mat, then heat it up. The injection moulding machine does the compression moulding for us.
"It's a very cool technology, and furthermore we've eliminated a lot of the trimming, and it reduces a lot of weight. Seven pounds is a lot of weight."
The system takes advantage of the weight savings of natural-fiber composites, but also has the rigidity of injection molding where that is needed.
The full version of this story appears on our sister publication Plastics News
Caption: The Bespoke interior showcases JCI's vision for integrating electronics, interiors and seating.