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About two years ago, Mark, a manufacturing engineer at AutoTrim, was researching equipment to assemble a new, high-volume door panel they were hoping to win from an OEM. Mark recalled seeing a demo of Extol’s InfraStake technology a few months prior and was drawn to InfraStake’s built-in clamping feature that ensures tight stakes. Mark was hopeful that InfraStake would be a good fit for the door panel line, but wanted confirmation that the technology could meet the cycle time, strength, and assembly tightness requirements. That’s when our Applications Lab, the first of Extol’s wide array of customer-supporting service groups, stepped in to help.
How many times have you stared at a plastic staking machine and wondered how long of a cool time is necessary to prevent the material from sticking to the forming tool when it retracts? Will the settings need to be adjusted after the machine has been running for a while? You need to make good parts, but you also want to optimize the machine cycle time. And naturally, the staking modules need to be small enough to fit your application. Automotive lighting and electronics manufacturers especially need a staking process that fits in tight spaces, keeps up with production, and is simple to set up and operate. Enter nanoSTAKE®, a patent-pending, revolutionary new staking technology that fits the bill.
What if I told you that you can reduce weight and space of a headliner assembly while attaching B-side headliner components? It must be expensive, right? Wrong. In one application, cost was reduced by $3.27 while saving 1.46 lbs and 1 mm stack height per vehicle. Most automakers look for ways to save a few ounces per vehicle, let alone almost a pound and a half! These savings were achieved using a process called InfraWeld®, which uses zero consumables and can change the way you manufacture headliner assemblies.
Several months ago, while spending some time in our Innovation Group, one of our company’s founders (or I can say engineers) asked me to come and take a look at something. Standing in our innovation area, Chip walks me over to a workbench where I see an unassuming setup with a small pneumatic cylinder which holds a pencil-shaped device, only shorter. It’s small with what appears to be undersized wires and a hose coming out of the top. It’s hovering over one of Extol’s plastic test coupons which I’ve staked or riveted using ultrasonic and InfraStake modules hundreds, if not thousands of times. Nearby there is a start button waiting to be pushed.
When welding parts in production, you want to have reliable and consistent assemblies. You may have been churning out ‘good’ parts for years, but suddenly you are finding part inconsistencies and failures when none of your parameters have changed! What happened?
The origins of the verb “trend” mean “revolve or rotate” which has become “change or develop in a general direction”. It is appropriate that we discuss trends with respect to the auto market as the wheels revolve and the axle rotates, so do the trends change. Jabil recently commissioned a survey of the automotive and transportation industry seeking to understand trends from OEM’s and Tier 1’s in this market sector.