Despite the winter storm that recently swept the US, more than 100 representatives from OEM, molders and converters attended the Kraton Injection Molded Soft Skin (IMSS) Technology Days to witness the unveiling of a potential game-changing innovation. The week-long event showcased Kraton’s IMSS technology, which enables manufacturers to mold a large thin wall soft skin product design. This capability opens the automotive market to the production of larger applications, such as door panels, consoles and instrument panels that can be as thin as 0.8 mm. Significant cost savings associated with part cycle-time improvement are also achieved since auto parts are produced five times faster compared to a slush molding process.
“The Kraton IMSS technology delivers soft-touch haptics and vehicle weight savings using our latest generation of TPE polymer chemistry and injection molding, the industry’s preferred conversion method,” said Joe Schulcz, Automotive Market Manager at Kraton. “We look forward to working with OEM, Tier 1, Tier 2 and compounded material suppliers to advance the interior market using this disruptive technology.”
To demonstrate this latest downstream innovation of IMSS compound – enabled by Kraton high-flow SEBS-based TPE polymers, a large automotive instrument panel skin injection molding tool was used to run the Kraton IMSS material in a 3,000 ton injection molding press. The tool, built by Hi-Tech Mold & Engineering and operated at their facility, has a similar design currently used in PVC slush technology. Kraton demonstrated that its polymers can be thin-walled injection molded with minimal changes to the slush molded design’s A-surface. It also shows how the IMSS technology can be used on standard equipment and under normal processing conditions, using both skin-only and over-molded injection molding processes.
IMSS products made with Kraton polymer technology look and feel great in interior applications such as instrument panels, trim panels and center consoles. The products also support environmentally-responsible initiatives such as vehicle lightweighting and recyclability since it can reuse scrap and production trim waste.
For information on the Kraton IMSS technology, contact Joe Schulcz at Joseph.Schulcz@Kraton.com.