Automotive: Mazda foams its way to lighter parts

By mixing in a supercritical fluid (SCF) that raise the fluidity of molten resin and causes it to expand rapidly when injected into a mold, automaker Mazda Motor Corp. says it is able to reduce plastic part weights, as well as the amount of resin needed, in some instances cutting raw-material usage by 20-30%.

The company says it has also applied what it calls a core back expansion molding process that enables thicker parts to be molded using less plastic by creating a multilayer structure. By creating these layers, Mazda says it is able to mold an outer skin where bubbles are kept microscopic to ensure part strength, while bubble diameters in the core layer can be adjusted to reduce density, and weight, as desired.

Mazda says that unlike conventional plastic foaming methods that use a gas formed through the thermal decomposition of organic and inorganic compounds, using SCF for its foamed resin molding technology means there are no adverse effects from residual chemical compounds, giving the process a smaller environmental impact.


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