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Functional frames

Functional frames


Plastic-metal hybrid technology has so far seen use in automotive front ends, but it has also been investigated as a way to create appliance frames with built-in mounting features.

Plastic-metal hybrid (PMH) technology, which creates load-bearing structures by injection molding a network of polyamide ribs into one or more metal stampings, is poised to move beyond its automotive roots and make its way into the home and office, too. PMH's developer has recently worked on development projects for appliance frames with built-in features--such as shelving or mounts for heavy motors and ice machines. Other development projects focus on business equipment, which can likewise take advantage of the ability to combine structural requirements with the integration of mounting features.

Thanks to its history in automotive front-ends, PMH has already demonstrated an ability to handle static loads in excess of 5,000 N. So the lower loads experienced by these appliance and computer housings should pose no structural challenges. In these automotive applications, the technology has typically contributed to weight reductions of 20% and total cost reductions between 20 and 40%.

The move beyond automotive applications is driven by PMH's less well-known capabilities as an in-mold assembly method. Several styles of moldable locking features for joining metal components with steel, aluminum, or magnesium stampings have been developed. These locking features form during the molding cycle as the plastic melt flows into holes in the overmolded stamping. When added strength is required, the stampings can be overlapped inside the tool.

Olaf Zoellner, Bayer Corporation Polymers Division, 100 Bayer Road; Tel: (412) 777-2000; Fax: (412) 777-4889; E-mail: [email protected]

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