Lightening up with MuCell
Ford has reduced the weight of the instrument panel (IP) in its all-new Escape using for the first time a special injection-moulding process that creates micron-sized cells.
Ford has reduced the weight of the instrument panel (IP) in its all-new Escape using for the first time a special injection-moulding process that creates instrument panel.
Invented by MIT, and subsequently acquired by Trexel in 1995, the MuCell process involves the highly controlled use of a gas such as CO2 or nitrogen, which creates millions of uniformly configured tiny bubbles that lower the plastic part’s weight.
Creating the instrument panel structure in microcellular foam versus solid injection moulding saves an estimated $3 per vehicle and more than 0.5 kilograms, moulding cycle time is reduced 15% and moulding clamp tonnage is reduced 45%.
Ford notes the weight saving doesn’t seem like much, but the plastic parts are in an area where it’s particularly challenging to save weight without sacrificing strength, durability or function.
The MuCell process, also used successfully by Ford in Europe for valve covers and HVAC systems, will see wider use next year.