Rochester, Michigan - A new process for making soft-touch parts for vehicles, office furniture and juvenile products (for example, car seats and strollers) may compete with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and back-foamed urethane processes, US manufacturer Innatech llc claims.
The multi-shot Innaflex technology, which uses polypropylene (PP) and thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs), "can enhance the look, feel and performance of padded components - such as armrests, door bolsters, seat cushions and backs - while significantly reducing their costs over the current technologies employed to produce these products," the company said in a 9 Sept statement.
"The materials we are using are PP and TPE. The first shot is PP for the substrate. The second and third shot are TPE grades of material. The padded effect is achieved through a combination of the materials and an 'air chamber effect' we achieve with our patent-pending process," an Innatech spokesperson told Urethanes Technology International.
Innaflex is the most recent example of Innatech's use of multi-shot technology. Innatech's director of engineering, Blake Synnestvedt, said in a company statement: "Innatech specialises in this type of moulding …. Taking advantage of vertically-integrated operations, Innaflex was developed by experienced multi-shot product engineers, tool engineers and tool builders." The process delivers "excellent product appearance, flexibility and robustness along with significant cost savings," he added.
Benchmarking studies suggest that Innatech will be able to replace PVC and urethane foam commonly in use today, the company claimed.
Design flexibility is increased for styling of padded corners, and also offers side-impact energy management as a design benefit. In one of the benchmarked applications, Innaflex could replace eight components by integrating them into a single moulded assembly, the company pointed out.