Plastic Net-forming of Metal (PLANET)

Lead Participant: Innoval Technology Limited


The goal of the PLANET project was to deliver a novel process for manufacture of lightweight hybrid automotive body panels with a significant weight reduction compared to conventional monolithic metal panels. This was achieved by forming metal sheets by the injection of molten plastic in a conventional injection moulding machine in a similar way to hydroforming. This plastic both bonded to the metal bond and formed features on the metal. The hybrid combination of metal and polymer enabled a reduction in metal thickness with additional benefits including a minimisation of springback, reduced tooling costs, increased part complexity, part consolidation and improved impact/safety properties. In addition the polymer backing of the metal provided a corrosion protection of the metal. The technology requires only minor modification to existing injection moulding technology. The project evaluated the design and production of automotive panel systems to establish the most efficient and practical composite. The intention was to establish OEM confidence to apply the new material combination for future low carbon vehicles.




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