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February 1, 2002

3 Min Read
All-electric inmold Class A painting

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Ube Machinery Inc.'s inmold coating (IMC) process produces parts like this motorcycle side cover with a Class A paint surface in a single step, saving time, materials, and equipment costs.

An inmold coating (IMC) process technology developed by Ube Machinery Corp. in conjunction with Dai Nippon Toryo (both in Japan) allows a part molded from a heat-resistant thermoplastic to be painted to a Class A surface finish during the cycle, while the part is still in the mold. After the part is molded, the tool is opened and paint is automatically injected before the tool again closes. 

Ube sources say that a Class A paint surface identical to the cavity surface is achieved with precise and repeatable control over mold positioning provided by the Ultima UN series of all-electric injection presses (35 to 1550 tons). 

The IMC process is designed to dramatically reduce the cost of equipment, materials, and time involved to produce parts that require a Class A paint surface—especially when compared to the separate painting processes commonly employed by automotive operations. 

With IMC, airborne contaminants cannot as easily affect part quality, so the number of defective parts is reduced. The percentage of paint loss also is dramatically reduced, report Ube sources. IMC uses a paint formulation free of organic solvents, so the process produces no VOCs. Also, IMC parts are recyclable. 

Ube sources tell us there are a number of IMC R&D projects presently under way in Japan, though none has yet to produce a production part. The process will be made available this year to U.S. molders as a standard option on new Ube electric molding machines. Retrofit packages also will be available. 

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Ube's inmold foaming process uses the cellular expansion of the foaming agent precisely controlled by patented clamp control software to reduce part weight while maintaining strength, thickness, and a Class A surface.

All-electric Inmold Foaming 
Meanwhile, Ube has already commercialized an intriguing all-electric inmold foaming process technology that also takes advantage of the company's patented multistep clamp control software. 

Called Dieprest Foam (DPF), resin blended with blowing agents is shot into a closed mold. The clamp is then quickly and precisely opened, allowing the foaming agent to expand. The speed and positioning of this clamp opening reportedly determines cell structure and part dimensions. 

DPF decreases part weight while maintaining its strength, thickness, and Class A surface finish. It also can be used with Ube's Dieprest Skin-Insert molding process, inmold decorating, and multimolding. 

Ube introduced Dieprest to the world at K'98. The system adds control logic and clamping unit sensors to its standard presses equipped with low-pressure molding control. These add-ons allow inmold lamination with either foam, fabric, or film inserts, all at the flick of a switch, with no cycle time penalty. 

Dieprest also saves cost in another way. The Dieprest system can be switched off for conventional molding runs. Ube also has built ease of use into Dieprest. The software is designed to guide users through setup. It also automatically refreshes optimum molding parameters on the fly for repeatable quality. 

Available on new Ultima UNs and retrofitable to existing Ube all-electrics, DPF is being used to produce parts for model year 2003 automobiles, appliances, furniture, consumer products, and medical equipment. 

Contact information
Ube Machinery Inc.
Ann Arbor, MI
Greg Konczal
(734) 741-7000
www.ubemachinery.com

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