With their latest vehicle model already in production, an automotive OEM was having issues with their chosen sealing material. Problems were surfacing at both the Tier 1 supplier and Tier 2 material converter levels.
Production yields on the sealing strips for an exterior spoiler were dismal. The strips are meant to serve as a mechanical seal where the spoiler is attached to the vehicle trunk, keeping the two pieces of plastic from rubbing against each other. Without a proper seal, the spoiler could be damaged through abrasion at the point of attachment, or ingress of water or other environmental elements. The OEM had designed in a solid EPDM rubber but soon found that it stretched easily, causing problems in the process of slitting, adding adhesive, and in final assembly. The material would stretch during fabrication then shrink back, causing the adhesive to peel away or the strip to tear. Scrap rates were high across the supply chain and the OEM was concerned that the material could ultimately fail in use, potentially leading to costly product recalls. Without a better, more dimensionally stable solution, their spoiler was effectively “spoiled.” Time was of the essence, as every day of inefficient fabrication and production was costing time and money, and might cause further issues for car buyers down the road.
Working quickly to team with the OEM and supply chain members, Rogers’ technical experts solved the issue with a customized PORON® polyurethanes solution cast directly onto polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film with no added adhesive layer. The PET film backing was critical to add dimensional stability to the material throughout the fabrication process. Rogers’ team ran multiple pilot product runs, sampling the customer with a range of materials varying in density and firmness until they found the perfect solution. To further increase yields for fabricators, Rogers provided a custom width to match the length of the final strip, eliminating another source of waste during the slitting and converting process.
Spoiler alert solved! The OEM ultimately chose Rogers’ PORON® 4701-50-30 material, directly cast onto PET. This customized solution offered the low compression set and long term performance of PORON® polyurethanes with the added dimensional stability of a PET backing. The addition of PET film would keep the material from stretching during the slitting, adhesive application and assembly operations. Across the supply chain, yields improved dramatically. The converter gained major efficiencies and the Tier 1 was able to streamline their manufacturing process due to the increased dimensional stability of the material. Ultimately, the OEM and their customers are the true winners thanks to the materials expertise of the Rogers’ technical team.