OCT 2018


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OCTOBER 2018 68 CompositesWorld INSIDE MANUFACTURING quietly along the track. Also, the process would limit the ability to change profile geometry across the length of the rail to incorpo- rate more functional integration without adding hardware (such as extra pins and clips) during post-processing steps. e other process considered was injection molding, which can produce very complex 3D structures with smooth finishes and high aesthetics quickly, precisely and with excellent repeatability and reproducibility (R&R). Additionally, it allows holes, cutouts, snap- fits and even clips to be molded in, reducing secondary finishing. For the target application, the downside is that injection molding cannot produce a hollow structure in a single step (necessitating that each rail be molded in two pieces and then joined.) Also, tooling can be costly. e team settled on injection molding with a goal of incorpo- rating multiple parts in a family tool to reduce tooling costs. Concept prove-out With the basic concept looking promising, the development team expanded to include OEM Groupe Renault and molder AARK- Shapers (La Séguinière, France). e goal was to design a composite rail system for a fixed-glass roller-blind sunroof module on the 2016 model year Renault Scenic (five-seater) and Grand Scenic (seven- seater) multipurpose vehicles (MPVs). e team decided to design each rail to include a high level of functional integration, to have mirror symmetry between rails for left and right sides and for the Typical aluminum guide rails The auto industry has traditionally used aluminum rails to connect a sunroof roller blind to the body-in-white roof structure, especially for large and transparent fixed-glass sunroof systems. The traditional manufacturing process for aluminum rails begins with a constant cross-section aluminum profile (left) and requires a labor-intensive, multi-step cutting, milling and finishing process to produce the rail's complex shape (far right and top). Not only are aluminum guide rails labor intensive to produce at the sunroof manufacturer, but they also are labor intensive to install at the vehicle assembly plant. Source | Webasto SC SUBSCRIBE TODAY. CW is CompositesWorld!

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