2022 SHOW HIGHLIGHTS
Day Two: Niebling showcases trends in high-pressure forming for FIM
In a live interview during the show, Douglas Gray, senior sales manager APAC at Niebling, spoke about the Film Insert Molding (FIM) process that the company is showing to visitors. “It has long been the best solution for decorative and closed surfaces for automotive interiors. Current trends in the market are strengthening and widening the potential for the High Pressure Forming [HPF] process inside and outside of the vehicle.
“Demand for capacitive touch, closed surfaces, more decoration options and larger pieces is growing, so Niebling is showing the market how we can support this with HPF for the FIM process. We are sharing insights on these trends and how our excellent forming solutions and automation can help customers meet these growing challenges. We are also reminding the industry that our expertise and know-how as an innovation partner, developed at the forefront of the industry, enables us to provide support beyond equipment and tooling supply with product and process development."
Talking about the features, capabilities and advantages of the company’s latest development for XXL forming of films, Gray said, “We offer the same levels of 3D precision and positional accuracy for which we are renowned, but in a bigger size. This enables customers to offer the unique benefits of the Niebling process and FIM for larger parts, opening greater opportunities to the market inside and outside of the vehicle.”
HPF is also used in EVs and AD sensors: “For sensor applications the key is that the product is transparent to radar and lidar signals. Parts made using the Niebling process and FIM are plastic and so are, with careful material selection, an ideal solution for radome covers. Additionally, EVs do not require the radiator grilles that were a feature of conventional vehicle technology. This offers a large, highly visible area for the OEM to accentuate their brand and differentiation. Consequently, there is significant interest in our process for pillar-to-pillar front panels. The FIM process delivers decorative parts with exceptional positioning accuracy and high repeatability, making it the ideal solution for this emerging market need.”
Gray also talked about the benefits of using high automation. “For us, automation reduces cycle times by up to 40%, bringing considerable benefits in terms of productivity and cost. Additionally, the human influence is reduced, further reducing cost, with greater process repeatability and less non-quality."
He also shared that OEMs and suppliers now want this technology for exterior parts in larger sizes as well as interior purposes: “This reflects recognition of the capability and potential of the FIM process. Niebling High Pressure Forming as part of the FIM process delivers geometric and positional accuracy with high repeatability for decorative and/or functional parts. The full process chain relies on processes that are already well established in the supply chain, including screen printing and injection molding, making is very accessible to the market. The resulting parts are durable, low cost and decorative; it is an ideal process to answer these emerging needs from a well-established and capable supply chain.
“We have contributed to Automotive Interiors Expo in Stuttgart for many years; it is a fixture in our calendar," enthused Gray. “While trends are bringing opportunities on the vehicle exterior, there remains massive potential in automotive interiors for the FIM process as a greener, higher performing and more durable alternative to paint and laser etch. The growth in capacitive touch for HMI is compatible with our technology and when combined with the drive to closed surfaces, we offer the optimum process.”