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Structural solution: Mankiewicz has found a solution for a car component company.



From structural parts to complete systems ready for assembly--for many years, Polyplex has been supplying car manufacturers with components that comply with extremely high demands. Fibre-reinforced plastics are the Swiss company's special field, SMC glass fibre plastics for car body coverings among others. SMC is short for Sheet Moulding Compound, i.e. plate-shaped moulding compounds made of thermosetting resins and glass fibres. One of the customers is the company EvoBus, the biggest European subsidiary of Daimler AG. Next to sheet steel, the bus body parts are made of SMC plastic.

In the spring of 2014 Polyplex, owing to increasing customer requests, looked for an experienced and reliable partner for complete solutions to optimise the paint application process. A conductible paint, easily and quickly applicable, was required. As bus bodies are made of both plastic and metal coverings and because the final painting of all component groups is done electrostatically, the plastic components have to be conductible. To achieve this a special primer is applied which allows uniform electrostatic application of metal and plastic parts in one process step.

"As we have worked with Mankiewicz for years it was obvious for us to look for a suitable solution together", says Edgar Zimmermann, managing director at Polyplex. Uwe Gunther, industrial adviser surfaces at Mankiewicz, was excited about this: "We enjoyed the challenge, especially because our product developments are always prompted by market or customer demands--now we had an incentive to deal with the issue." Apart from the paint, cost reduction in the technical sector was an issue.

Consequently, the application equipment had to be adjusted in order to optimise the process. Up to now, low-pressure pumps had been used and two-component paints admixed manually, which was outdated.

Wagner's expertise helped. Wagner, located in Markdorf at Lake Constance, is a manufacturer of equipment and machines for the coating of surfaces with powder and wet paints. After a joint inspection and exact analysis at Polyplex it soon became clear that a two-component paint unit would be the perfect solution. Wagner was on site with the suitable equipment and able to offer a solution. A two-week testing phase of the paint unit was offered. After implementation and testing of the high-pressure two-component paint unit with additional air support for paint atomization it quickly became obvious that: "We do not want to do without this technology again", Mr Zimmermann of Polyplex says.

Using a two-component paint unit means that the laborious manual admixing can be dispensed with. Also, the pumps need not be rinsed before breaks or longer interruptions, because automatic mixing of paint and hardener is done in a specific mixing device. This allows the processing of paint with a distinctly shorter potlife, which leads to an enormous productivity increase owing to quicker drying and reaction as well as to less solvent consumption. This in turn cuts the costs and is beneficial for the environment. At the same time the process safety is enhanced, because the mixtures are monitored and the painter has newly-mixed material at his disposal at any time.

Process optimisation and cost reduction

Customer-focussed interaction of the application equipment and the paint system ensured that the high demands on the paint we recomplied with. Result: optimum adhesion to the SMC plastic, excellent filling capacity to smooth surface unevennesses, good sandability of the components. Another cost-saving factor was switching from air spray to aircoat paint application.

Optimised paint application resulted in higher transfer efficiency. Compared to common air-atomizing systems, aircoat application reduces the overspray rate. "In order to implement this method we had to quickly convince the responsible people of the benefits of aircoat paint application", says Patrick Freche, business relation manager at Wagner.

Again, the cooperation of Wagner and Mankiewicz bore fruit: The employees were specifically trained in the operation of this paint unit as well as in the new application rer of equipment and machines for the coating of surfaces with powder method. "We got top results", says Mr Zimmermann of Polyplex. The benefits that the joint solution of the two companies offers are immense: Shorter throughput times, less material consumption and drastic VOC reduction. Further, the fee for solvents that has to be paid in Switzerland was reduced significantly. There were no more bottlenecks in the painting area, capacities could be extended and high labour costs reduced--a successful example for the utilization of synergy effects.
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Title Annotation:WET PAINT
Date:Sep 1, 2016
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