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Sirris simplifies metal/plastic hybrid composite manufacturing

Sirris and three research partners (including CRM) have developed an easier and more affordable manufacturing process to produce metal/plastic hybrid parts.

Many industrial sectors, led by automotive and aerospace, are looking to replace certain wholly metal parts with new lighter and potentially less expensive metal/plastic hybrid composites. While various techniques exist for securely fusing metal and plastic together, there is certainly room for improvement. Sirris took up the challenge of dealing with this in a Collective Research Networking (Cornet) project.

 

  • Metal/plastic hybrid parts are an appealing prospect to many industrial sectors as a replacement for wholly metal components.
  • The main challenge in making them is getting the plastic and metal parts to stick together.
  • Sirris and its partners developed a process to enhance the compatibility between the metal and the plastic.
  • The hybrid ashpan lid created to check the design passed the stress tests with flying colors.

 

PreFiHy: a collective research project

Co-funded by the European Union (Cornet project), the PreFiHy project aims to develop an easy and affordable production process for manufacturing hybrid products and brings together four research institutes: in Germany the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden (IPF)and the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology (IWU) in Chemnitz, and in Belgium CRM and Sirris.

 

The research work has focused on combining light metal substrates such as aluminum with polyamide.

 

A successful and lasting fusion

The main challenge involved in producing a high-quality metal/plastic hybrid compound is to ensure that the two materials stick together. The current techniques are relatively complex and expensive to use. Sirris and its research partners have pooled their expertise to develop a more affordable alternative. 

A new-generation coating

The partners have developed a new-generation coating, with this being implemented in a four-step process consisting of pre-treating the metal surface, applying the coating, shaping the metal insert using incremental sheet forming (ISF), and finally injection-molding the plastic. The special thing about the new coating is its multifunctionality. Not only does it provide an excellent mechanical grip between the metal and the plastic but its attractive rendering means that there is no need for a layer of paint for the metal parts that are still visible. 

A hybrid ashpan lid

The feasibility of these developments has been demonstrated by creating an ashpan lid for the automotive sector, consisting of a plastic part with a metal insert. The prototype hybrid lid lived up to all expectations, with all the tests (general and local stresses) demonstrating a remarkable grip potential. After the coating has been optimized, the next step will be industrial production.