Integration Concept of Injection, Forming and Foaming: A Practical Approach to Manufacture Hybrid Structures
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Motivated by the concept of the integrative production systems, the hybrid process of polymer injection molding and sheet metal forming, known as polymer injection forming (PIF), has been introduced to manufacture sheet metal-polymer components in a single operation. Despite the wide potential application of this technology, its implementation in actual industrial production has been hindered due to several challenges; a thick layer of polymer where there is deep deformation, non-uniform deformation due to pressure loss and the opposite phenomena of shrinkage and springback. To mitigate these practical issues, the novel idea of integrating supercritical fluid (Sc.F.) technology with the PIF process is introduced in this work. As the proposed technology is a manufacturing innovation, with no available information in the literature correlating to this concept, two sets of experiments are designed to investigate the feasibility of this integration. In the first set, the effect of blank material and shot volume as design variables were investigated over a range of Sc.F. weight percentage. To improve the cell morphology in experiments with the low-strength sheet material, several other processing scenarios are explored in the second set of experiments. The results of this study clearly demonstrate the capabilities of this concept manufacturing process in terms of initiating the foaming process within the simultaneous injection/forming process, ensuring weight reduction (of up to 16%) and complete elimination of issues related to shrinkage.
KeywordsPolymer injection forming (PIF) Supercritical fluid (Sc.F.) technology Hybrid structures
The authors would like to recognize the financial support by Robert Patrick Jenkins Professorship, and Dean’s Faculty Fellow Professorship. The authors would also like to acknowledge HASCO America Inc. for providing the metric mold base and standard mold components and Mr. Vinayak Khade for his help in the measurement of the samples. Saeed Farahani would like to acknowledge the financial support provided by Firestone Fellowship Award in Advanced Materials and Sonoco Fellowship in Automotive Engineering.
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