Title:
MOLDED-IN-COLOR VEHICLE PANEL AND MOLD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In one embodiment a mold for creating a molded-in-color vehicle panel is provided. The mold may have at least first and second mold members, each having a forming surface for forming a portion of the vehicle panel. One mold member is translatable relative to the other to collectively receive a heated resin with a molded-in-color to form the vehicle panel. At least one punch is provided within one of the first or second mold members. The at least one punch is actuatable to extend through the one forming surface of and is actuatable to extend through a nest to nest in the other forming surface for forming an aperture through a partially cooled vehicle panel.



Inventors:
Samluk, Michael Alan (New Hudson, MI, US)
Brown, Laron (Detroit, MI, US)
Staniszewski, Stanley (Grosse Pointe Woods, MI, US)
Roberts, Richard Jerome (Clinton Twp., MI, US)
Application Number:
11/673704
Publication Date:
08/14/2008
Filing Date:
02/12/2007
Assignee:
FORD GLOBAL TECHNOLOGIES, LLC (Dearborn, MI, US)
I-FUSION TECHNOLOGIES, INC. (Clinton Twp., MI, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
296/191, 425/404
International Classes:
B29C45/17; B29C45/00; B29C45/64; B62D25/02
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
WU, VICKI H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BROOKS KUSHMAN P.C./FGTL (SOUTHFIELD, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A mold for creating a molded-in-color vehicle panel, the mold comprising: a first mold member having a first forming surface for forming a portion of a vehicle panel; a second mold member having a second forming surface for forming another portion of the vehicle panel, the second mold member being translatable relative to the first mold member to collectively receive a heated resin with a molded-in-color to form the vehicle panel; and at least one punch provided within one of the first or second mold members, the at least one punch being actuatable to extend through the forming surface of the one of the first or second mold members and being actuatable to extend through a nest to nest in the forming surface of the other of the first or second mold members for forming an aperture through a partially cooled vehicle panel.

2. The mold of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of punches provided within the one of the first mold member or second mold member, the plurality of punches extending through the forming surface of the one of the first or second mold member and nesting in the forming surface of the other of the first or second mold member for forming a plurality of apertures through the partially cooled vehicle panel.

3. The mold of claim 1 wherein the first mold member further comprises a core and the second mold member further comprises a cavity.

4. The mold of claim 1 wherein the at least one punch is provided within the second mold member, the at least one punch extending through the second mold member forming surface and nesting in the first mold member forming surface.

5. The mold of claim 1 further comprising at least one corresponding translatable receiver provided for forming at least a portion of the forming surface of the other of the first or second mold member, the corresponding moveable receiver receiving the at least a punch through the forming surface of the other of the first or second mold member.

6. The mold of claim 5 further comprising: a plurality of punches provided within the one of the first or second mold member, the plurality of punches extending through the forming surface of the one of the first or second mold member and nesting in the forming surface of the other of the first or second mold member for forming a plurality of apertures through the partially cooled vehicle panel; and a plurality of corresponding receivers provided for nesting the plurality of punches in the forming surface of the other of the first or second mold member.

7. A method for creating a molded-in-color vehicle panel in a mold, the method comprising: injecting molded-in-color resin in the mold; partially cooling the molded-in-color resin; and punching at least one aperture through the partially cooled molded-in-color resin in the mold.

8. The method of claim 7 further comprising forming the resin into a sold molded-in-color interior vehicle panel.

9. The method of claim 7 further comprising: opening the mold; and ejecting the molded-in-color vehicle panel from the mold.

10. The method of claim 9 further comprising cooling the partially cooled molded-in-color resin to a solid vehicle panel.

11. The method of claim 7 further comprising: providing a receiver to receive a punch; receiving the punch in the receiver.

12. The method of claim 7 further comprising closing the mold before providing molded-in-color resin to the mold.

13. The method of claim 7 wherein injecting molded-in-color resin further comprises injecting molded-in-color metallic resin.

14. A molded-in-color vehicle panel formed in the steps comprising: injecting molded-in-color resin in the mold; partially cooling the molded-in-color resin; and punching at least one aperture through the partially cooled molded-in-color resin in the mold.

15. The molded-in-color vehicle panel formed in the steps of claim 14, the steps further comprising forming the resin into a sold molded-in-color interior vehicle panel.

16. The molded-in-color vehicle panel formed in the steps of claim 14, the steps further comprising: opening the mold; and ejecting the molded-in-color vehicle panel from the mold.

17. The molded-in-color vehicle panel formed in the steps of claim 14, the steps further comprising cooling the partially cooled molded-in-color resin to a solid vehicle panel.

18. The molded-in-color vehicle panel formed in the steps of claim 14, the steps further comprising: providing a receiver to receive a punch; receiving the punch in the receiver.

19. The molded-in-color vehicle panel formed in the steps of claim 14, the steps further comprising closing the mold before providing molded-in-color resin to the mold.

20. The molded-in-color vehicle panel formed in the steps of claim 14 wherein injecting molded-in-color resin further comprises injecting molded-in-color metallic resin.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The multiple embodiments of the present invention relate to molded-in-color vehicle panels and molds for creating molded-in-color vehicle panels.

2. Background Art

Vehicle panels, which may be on the interior or exterior of a vehicle, commonly have surfaces which are exposed to a viewable environment. These exposed surfaces are often referred to as class-A surfaces. It is desirable to create these class-A surfaces to have few surface defects or flaws when compared to non class-A surfaces. Since class-A surfaces are exposed to a viewable environment, these surfaces are formed using tigher tolerances and greater detail. Non class-A surfaces are not exposed in the viewable environment and may have visible surface defects and flaws.

When vehicle panels are formed using injection, compression, or vacuum molding, class-A surfaces without defects are difficult to create because of the appearance of knit and mold flow lines. Since surface defects such as these are difficult to eliminate and/or control using injection, compression, or vacuum molding, vehicle panels with class-A surfaces are not typically injection, compression, or vacuum molded unless the vehicles are painted in a secondary painting operation, covering the surface defects.

Painting the vehicle panel in a secondary painting operation requires additional time and cost to create the vehicle panel. Paint is also susceptible to peeling, chipping, blistering and/or delamination. Therefore, molded-in-color plastics provide an alternative for use in creating a vehicle panel.

Molded-in-color plastics are a lower cost option for programs to consider instead of current painted technologies and/or other decorative alternatives, such as paint film or ink laminates. Molded-in-color plastics are also environmentally friendly. Although molded-in-color plastics offer these benefits, it is still extremely difficult to mold parts in color without visible appearance of knit and mold flow lines on a class-A surface.

When a vehicle panel is designed with holes formed through the body of the panel, creating a defect-free class-A surface is difficult and often expensive even when using molded-in-color plastic. Injection, compression, or vacuum molding the vehicle panel with holes is difficult because of the visible appearance of knit and mold flow lines on the class-A surface. A secondary cutting operation is often performed on the vehicle panel to create the holes. A secondary cutting operation requires additional time and cost to produce the vehicle panel.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, the mold has a first mold member having a first forming surface for forming a portion of the vehicle panel. The mold is provided with at least a second mold member having a second forming surface for forming another portion of the vehicle panel. The second mold member is translatable relative to the first mold member to collectively receive a heated resin with molded-in-color to form the vehicle panel. At least one punch is provided within one of the first or second mold members. The at least one punch is actuatable to extend through the forming surface of the one of the first or second mold members and to extend through a nest to nest in the forming surface of the other of the first or second mold members for forming an aperture through a partially cooled vehicle panel.

In yet another embodiment, a method for creating a molded-in-color vehicle panel is provided. The method provides for injecting molded-in-color resin into the mold, partially cooling the molded-in-color resin, and punching at least one aperture through the partially cooled molded-in-color resin in the mold.

In another embodiment, a molded-in-color vehicle panel is provided. The molded-in-color vehicle panel formed by injecting molded-in-color resin into the mold, partially cooling the molded-in-color resin, and punching at least one aperture through the partially cooled molded-in-color resin in the mold.

These and other desired objects of the embodiments will become more apparent in the course of the following detailed description and claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side elevation view of a mold in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is top plan view of the mold of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cross-section of the mold of FIG. 2 along the line 3-3;

FIG. 4 is another cross-section of the mold of FIG. 2 taken along the line 4-4;

FIG. 5 is yet another cross-section view of the mold of FIG. 2 taken along the line 5-5; and

FIG. 6 is another cross-section view of the mold of FIG. 2 taken along the line 6-6.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein; however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention that may be embodied in various and alternative forms. The figures are not necessarily to scale; some features may be exaggerated or minimized to show details of particular components. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a representative basis for the claims and/or as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention.

Referring to FIG. 1, a mold for creating a molded-in-color vehicle panel is illustrated and referenced generally by numeral 10. The mold 10 has a first mold half 12 and a second mold half 14. In another embodiment, the mold 10 may have three or more mold portions which collectively form the mold 10. Any number of mold portions are contemplated within the scope of the present invention.

In one embodiment, the first mold half 12 referred to as a cavity because the first mold half 12 may have a substantial recess for receiving the second mold half 14. The second mold half 14 may be referred to as a core because the second mold half 14 may have a substantial projection which is received in the cavity 12.

The core 14 may be moveable relative to the cavity 12. By providing a stationary cavity 12 and a moveable core 14, a vehicle panel may be retained within the mold 10 on the core 14 after molding the vehicle panel which may be generally easily ejected or removed after the mold 10 is opened. It is also contemplated within the scope of the present invention that the cavity 12 may be moveable while the core 14 is stationary. If three or more mold portions are employed, at least one mold portion may be moveable relative to at least a second mold portion.

Referring now to FIG. 2, a top plan view of the mold 10 of FIG. 1 is illustrated. To create a vehicle panel 16, a heated resin may be injected into the mold 10 through a resin inlet.

The resin which is heated, may have molded-in-color so that no secondary painting operation is required. In another embodiment, the heated resin and the colorant may be separately injected into the mold 10. The resin may have material properties comparable with a polycarbonate-acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (PC/ABS). The resin may also contain metallic molded-in-color for vehicle panel applications for use in the interior of the vehicle, for example. The metallic molded-in-color resin may achieve a low gloss, quality, metallic appearance once injection, compression, or vacuum molded, without secondary paint operations. The resulting vehicle panel will deliver enhanced metallic appearance over paint and offer a low cost option to using aluminum and/or decorative films.

The injected heated resin takes the shape of the vehicle panel 16 without any holes 18 formed through the vehicle panel 16. When the vehicle panel 16 is partially cooled within the mold 10, at least one hole 18 may be punched through the vehicle panel 16. In one embodiment, the temperature of the partially cooled vehicle panel 16 may be less than a melting temperature and near an plasticizing temperature of the vehicle panel 16. The temperature may be lower than the melting temperature because the vehicle panel 16 should not be liquid while the punching is preformed. The temperature may be near an plasticizing temperature of the vehicle panel 16, which is near the softening point of the material used to form the vehicle panel 16. The vehicle panel 16 may be punched before the panel 16 is fully cooled to avoid internal stresses which are formed when punching a fully cooled vehicle panel. Any number of holes 18 may be punched through the vehicle panel 16 in accordance with a desired design for the vehicle panel 16.

Referring now to FIGS. 3 and 4, the mold 10 is illustrated in cross-section taken along the lines 3-3 and 4-4, respectively. The mold 10 has a cavity 12 which is stationary and a core 14 which is moveable relative to the cavity 12. The cavity 12 may also be moveable relative to the core 14. The mold 10 is illustrated in an open position which may occur before a vehicle panel is formed or after a vehicle panel is formed.

The cavity 12 has a first forming surface 20 for receiving a second forming surface 22 of the core 14. The first forming surface 20 and the second forming surface 22 collectively provide an outer boundary for a vehicle panel. In another embodiment, three or more forming surfaces are provided to collectively define the outer boundary of a vehicle panel.

The core 14 may have at least one punch 24. Although three punches 24 are illustrated in this view of the present embodiment, any number of punches 24 is contemplated within the scope of the present invention. When the mold 10 is in the open position as illustrated, the punches 24 are in a first, non-extended position. After a heated resin is injected into the mold 10 and partially cooled, the punches 24 extend through the second forming surface 22, through the partially cooled vehicle panel and into the first forming surface 20. Once the punch 24 extends through the partially cooled vehicle panel and into the receiver 26, a hole is formed through the vehicle panel, which eliminates the need for a secondary cutting or punching operation for the vehicle panel.

The first forming surface 20 may be provided with at least one receiver 26 to receive at least one corresponding punch 24. The receiver 26 allows the punch 24 to extend through the first forming surface 20. Three receivers 26 are illustrated which correspond with the three punches 24. Any number of receivers 26 are contemplated within the scope of the present invention.

Referring now to FIG. 5, the mold 10 is illustrated in cross-section taken along the line 5-5, which corresponds with the cross-section of FIG. 4. The mold 10 is illustrated in a closed position, after heated resin has been injected. Once the heated resin has partially cooled, the punches 24 extend through the partially cooled resin into the receiver 26 forming holes 18 through the vehicle panel 16. The cavity 14 may then move linearly away from the core 12, as illustrated in FIG. 6, so that the vehicle panel 16 may be ejected or removed from the mold 10.

Referring now to FIG. 6, the receiver 26 may be provided with at least a shoulder 28. If a shoulder 28 is provided on the receiver 26, a shoulder aperture 30 may be provided to receive the shoulder 28 when the punch 24 is nested within the receiver 26. The shoulder 28 may provide a stop for the linear translation of the punch 24 and the receiver 26. The shoulder 28 may decrease the force required to move the receiver 26 by decreasing the total weight of the receiver 26.

While embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described, it is not intended that these embodiments illustrate and describe all possible forms of the invention. Rather, the words used in the specification are words of description rather than limitation, and it is understood that various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.