04 May Andaltec finalises the Ad-Lighting Project, intended to produce condensation-reducing parts for transport lighting systems
Andaltec Technological Centre has made significant progress in the R&D project “Ad-Lighting”, developing new materials and processes to improve the quality and functionality of parts with optical properties which could be affected by condensation phenomena. The programme’s goal is to achieve the advanced manufacture of complex optical parts based on polymeric materials with anti-condensation properties, applying surface treatment techniques by means of textured laser. The project intends to offers innovative solutions for two of the major challenges found in the manufacturing of thermoplastic materials to be applied in complex optical systems: the development of optical parts with anti-condensation properties and the production of complex surface geometries. Thanks to this project, Andaltec has managed to apply laser technology to obtain functional surfaces with the purpose of meeting the industrial companies’ demand for surface coatings and complex geometries of plastic products.
This initiative is funded by the R&D scheme directed to private entities of the department for Economy, Business and University of the Andalusian regional government. Thanks to its extensive experience in laser micro-texturing, Andaltec researchers have successfully optimised the geometry and sizes of texturing in order to achieve superhydrophobicity in a stainless steel surface. Once this was accomplished, the next research stage will focus on the type of materials, as well as the process parameters, which are needed to guarantee an anti-condensation effect, preserving the optical properties of the final plastic products simultaneously. This achievement will make unnecessary to use anti-condensation post-treatments for the final products, which are currently expensive and present certain use limitations.
The project is presently in its last development stage, bound to be finished in the weeks ahead. Thus, researchers are focused on the comparative analysis of the resulting textured parts with respect to previous untextured components.
The head of this project, Enrique Artacho, explains that car part industries are demanding thermoplastic parts with a high complexity degree. “Currently, parts are manufactured by injection modelling, which allows for a short manufacturing period, but are also hampered by ensuing processes which extend production time”, as he pinpoints. The Andaltec researcher holds that, as for parts employed in transport lighting systems, it is necessary to apply the anti-condensation character during the processing stage. He asserts that “this constitutes an unsolved problem that also affects other industrial sectors using thermoplastic materials too”.