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FRIMO Inc., one of the leading developers and providers of system solutions for the manufacture of high quality plastic component, has announced its partnership with Weber Manufacturing Technologies Inc., a fully integrated mold manufacturer to provide complete In-Mold Graining (IMG) solutions to automakers in North America.

Clare Goldsberry

November 8, 2013

3 Min Read
Partnership to provide in-mold graining solutions to automakers in North America

The partnership allows FRIMO to become the first supplier in the North American market to offer a complete, integrated IMG system for manufacturing automotive interiors, including equipment, tooling and process solutions, to its customers. It currently has three projects underway with its Tier1 customers for 2014-2015 Chrysler and Ford vehicle models.

"Due to increasing demands for quality and appearance, accompanied by cost pressure, more automakers and Tier 1 suppliers are choosing the IMG process to produced grained surfaces for auto interiors," said Jeff Daily, president of FRIMO. "By combining FRIMO's IMG process know-how and Weber's mastering expertise and high quality nickel vapor deposition (NVD) shell manufacturing, we're able to offer our customers a one-stop shop for IMG solutions, something that was previously unavailable in the market."

Robert Sheppard, VP of Weber Manufacturing Technologies, headquartered in Midland, Ontario, Canada, commented, "With our experienced team providing in-house master model machining and leather wrapping for any interior soft-touch textured part, it's easy to see why our partnership with FRIMO is a natural fit and allows us to supply high-quality IMG tooling faster than traditional electroforming methods.  Using our NVD technology, we produce stronger, more uniform nickel shells at a rate 20 times faster than electroforming. NVD replicates authentic textures molecule-by-molecule into a nickel shell at a competitive price, perfect for the IMG process."

The IMG process benefits automakers in a number of ways, according to FRIMO. It offers all the advantages of thermoforming, while meeting all the requirements for an optimal surface with no grain stretch, something which traditional thermoforming processes are unable to do. IMG is an economic alternative to slush skin, spray skin, both of which provide a significant weight advantage, or RIM skin approaches and allows for grain adjustment between different components, different grain-zones on the same component as well as embossing of logos.

Although the IMG process was first introduced 10 years ago, FRIMO has made continuous improvements that now enable the process to be used for increasingly demanding interior surfaces and complex geometries.

 "Our IMG solutions not only improve the appearance of vehicle interiors, they also help our customers achieve shorter lead times, lower costs and minimize risk by removing multiple supplier interfaces," said Daily. "Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs were seeking an integrated IMG solution built in North America and we're delivering it."

The FRIMO Group, headquartered in Wixom, MI, has production and sales locations with more than 1200 employees in Europe, Asia and America, and is a global developer and provider of system solutions for the manufacture of high-quality, fiber-reinforced plastics. The company supplies tooling and machinery, as well as the respective automation and finishing, e.g. with flexible trimming, joining and assembling. The company provides a wide range of plastic processing technologies including PU processing along with flexible trimming, punching, pressing and forming, as well as thermoforming, laminating, edge-folding, joining and gluing.

Weber Manufacturing Technologies is a fully integrated mold manufacturer in automotive interiors and exteriors, aerospace, and home and building products. Founded in 1962, Weber builds tooling for In-Mold Graining slush, spray, compression, injection, RTM, infusion and autoclave processes. The company's in-house model shop develops Master Models made for leather wrap, etched steel, or select wood grains, and can also provide low-cost models in silicone, epoxy and urethane tooling board.

Weber also operates the world's largest Nickel Vapor Deposition facility, capable of producing nickel shapes in 99.98% pure nickel, to high precision for molds or complex nickel components, including find surface detail, grains and textures.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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