Project: Tool surface coating for high value plastic manufacturing with optical quality

Inmold has recently discovered a coating procedure based on spin-on-glass (SOG), which can be used for high gloss polishing of injection molding tools, with large technological advantages. The essential features of the coating include an ability to reduce the roughness of a machined surface, without the use of manual polishing (Annex, figure A). This is of special interest in the plastic working industry, where the manual polishing step can be very costly, and also implies various risks during tool manufacture. _x000D__x000D_SOG polishing also makes it possible to create nanostructures on plastic forming tools (Annex, figure B). This is achieved by embossing the SOG coating on the tool surface using shims with the desired surface nanostructure. The embossing transfers the surface nanostructure to the SOG coating on the plastic forming tool. Afterwards, the plastic forming tool is then able to transfer the surface nanostructure to the injection molded plastic part (Annex, figure C)._x000D__x000D_The technology opens many opportunities to end-user companies. As mentioned, it becomes possible to entirely remove manual processes in the manufacture of polymer injection mold tools. Further, the SOG embossing process makes it possible for the first time to easily integrate nanostructures in the surface of molded parts, where the choice of nanostructure will endow the plastic part with hitherto unattainable physical properties, derived only from the nanostructure. These include holographic and diffractive patterns, self-cleaning surfaces, anti-reflective properties. It is important to realize that these effects on the plastic part, are based on structures rather than surface coatings, hence, there are none of the risks associated with nanoparticle based technologies._x000D__x000D_So far, the nanostructured SOG tool surface has been demonstrated on simple, flat tool inserts for injection molding. The insert retained up to 90% of the structure height of the original nanostructure. The subsequent injection molding could copy the full structure from the tool insert, however, at the current optimization stage the mold cycle was relatively slow. Using the SOG coating, a novel approach based on embedded resistive heating layers will be tested, to increase nanostructure transfer_x000D__x000D_Iscent has recently demonstrated that nanostructures such as gratings and holograms can be transferred by roll-to-roll hot embossing on to many types of materials, including plastics, paper and metal-coated polymers. Currently, the process relies on nanostructures made on large Nickel sleeves, which are then mounted on a steel roll. The steel roll is heated and pressed towards the material which receives an imprint of the nanostructure. The sleeving approach is difficult and cumbersome, and it has been proposed that the use of SOG can replace this process, with multiple embossings of nanostructured areas along an SOG-covered roll._x000D__x000D_The proposed project will explore the following areas:_x000D_- usage of the coating for attaining high gloss without manual processes_x000D_- use of embossing for obtaining nanostructures in complex molds_x000D_- a novel concept for enhancing the depth of nanostructures on molded parts_x000D_- the use of the nanostructured coating on rollers for roll-to-roll hot embossing_x000D_- characterization of high gloss and nanostructured molds, rolls and plastic parts and foils_x000D_

Acronym Qcoat (Reference Number: 8378)
Duration 01/01/2014 - 31/12/2015
Project Topic A novel process for realization of nanostructures in a quartz coating will be explored for injection moulding and roll-to-roll hot embossing. The process enables mass production of plastic parts with special properties, including self-cleaning, holographic, anti-reflective, etc.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 10

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
4 Inmold Biosystems A/S Coordinator Denmark
4 Iscent Oy Partner Finland
4 Rinotop Oy Partner Finland
4 VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Partner Finland