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Plastic Surface Finishing of Components

Injection Moulding for Sophisticated Designs and Functional Integration

When buying plastic products, aesthetics are becoming increasingly important. Functional properties are also gaining relevance. Our injection moulding processes ensure that manufacturers of visually appealing and multifunctional components achieve surface refinement and functionalisation of plastic parts. Thanks to the integration of several process steps in one cycle, you save costs and reduce the assembly workload.

Advantages of Plastic Surface Finishing and Functionalisation of Plastic Parts
Change design quickly and easily
Image shows surface designs of plastic components

The injection moulding process for film back-injection enables flexible component design. You can produce the same injection-moulded part in different colours, with different surface structures or with multi-coloured decorations – without changing moulds or materials. For example: you want to produce panels in blue and red and with different decors. With the classic injection moulding process, you would have to change the material and the type of printing. With film back-injection moulding, you only change the film inserted in the mould.

Surfaces with diverse functionality
Picture shows plastic component with functionality

In addition to plastic surface finishing, film technology also enables the integration of various functions into the plastic parts. Some examples: The use of foils enables different visual impressions, especially under different lighting conditions. We integrate labels with the help of a carrier film. Preformed films allow complex component geometries. Film back-moulding enables an HMI interface through printed electronic control elements or heating of surfaces in winter to keep sensors functional.

Picture shows plastic bumper wrong part
Plastic surface finishing for greater robustness of parts

When components have to be particular tough, flooding with a polyurethane coating is the optimal solution. In a production cell, the plastic substrate is first sprayed. In a second station, it is flooded with the reactive system. The thermosetting PUR protective layer gives components scratch resistance and impact strength. Self-healing effects allow scratches to disappear. The depth effect created by the coating gives a higher-quality impression.

Flooding for a haptic experience of the plastic surfaces
Picture shows plastic component with haptically demanding surface

Flooding creates haptically sophisticated surfaces that can have a variety of tactile properties. From rough to smooth, from hard to soft. The clearmelt injection moulding process can contribute to different haptic experiences depending on the requirements.

Surface details thanks to heating and cooling in each cycle
Plastic surface in detai

Variotherm processes are well suited to avoiding large-area or localised marking of weld lines. They are used for high-gloss effects on surfaces and can influence the filling behaviour for the smallest details. The processes are based on pressurised water or heat transfer oils and allow hot-cold switching of mould areas. They improve the detail accuracy of the components. Other variothermal processes are based on inductive heating solutions or the partial use of heating elements, among other things.

Visually appealing surfaces with recycled content
Picture shows plastic component made from recyclate

Decorative processes such as film back-injection or multi-component processes allow the use of recycled material. A front layer of the component can cover the structural component made of recycled material. In some cases, the use of recycled or bio-based materials is made visible in order to consciously focus on sustainability. This is achieved, for example, by overmoulding the functional surface with a layer of transparent material. The surface of the plastic part remains visually appealing.

More output through linking of production steps
Picture shows injection moulded part made of several components

Integrate multiple materials and surface functions in one injection moulding process. This minimises the time and costs for downstream assembly steps. Thanks to the multi-component injection moulding process, production takes place in one production cell. Sequential processes include core-back and sliding table technologies. They enable complex multi-component applications on machines with conventional clamping units. Maximum output is achieved with parallel processes using index, turntable or insert technology.

Production cell from a single source for increased part quality
Picture shows production cell from ENGEL

We design and manufacture your complete production cell, from the injection moulding machine to the robot and conveyor systems, right through to peripheral equipment. You get everything from a single source, including film or insert preparation and handling, also for clean room design. This is the straightforward way to set up production with the injection moulding process of film back-injection. You can rely on the highest part quality, stable injection moulding processes and high productivity when it comes to functionalisation and plastic surfaces.

Picture shows Vice President Global Application Technology at ENGEL Austria
Do You Want to Combine Design & Function in Your Plastic Parts?

Take advantage of our expertise, plant engineering and technologies for the surface finishing and functionalisation of your plastic parts. We will be happy to advise you on the design of your production cell.

Plastic Surface Finishing and Functionalisation Of Plastic Parts In Practice
Picture shows employees of Faurecia and ENGEL
Faurecia Produces Black Panels with Multi-Component Injection Moulding

The production of the centre console is demanding. It is a filigree frame structure made of plastic. Three materials are processed simultaneously in one step. The high-gloss lacquer requires an absolutely even substrate.

Overview of Our Injection Moulding Processes for Plastic Surface Finishing and Functionalisation

Procedure Product name Industry Applications Process
Foil back-moulding foilmelt Automobile & mobility, technical injection moulding Interior/exterior trims, fascias for white goods Create functional, haptic and decorative surfaces with foils
Multi-component injection moulding combimelt Automobile & mobility, technical injection moulding, medical technology, electronics, packaging Interior/exterior trims Combine different types of plastic in one component
Variotherm technology variomelt Automobile & mobility, technical injection moulding, electronics Fascias, white goods, TV frame Achieve a high gloss surface through alternating mould tempering (hot-cold)
Flood clearmelt Automobile & mobility, technical injection moulding Interior/exterior trims, fascias white goods Produce high-quality surfaces from polyurethane

Details on our plastic injection moulding processes for surface finishing and functionalisation

Picture shows plastic components produced by injection moulding Foil back-injection from ENGEL
Foil Back-Moulding
foilmelt

Foil back-injection is used for plastic surface finishing with a foil layer during the injection moulding process. The film layer can add value to your product, thanks to different surface designs or translucent parts, for instance. Additional electronic elements give surfaces special design accents with special effects or smart functions.

Your Advantages with the Foilmelt Process
Elaborate Effects

Design effects such as metallic, aluminium, chameleon effect or holograms on the surface of the component are possible.

Flexible Designs

You can implement different designs. Switching to a new design is quick and uncomplicated.

One-Shot Process

Direct injection moulding production of the surface design in a fully automated production cell. Without rework.

Cost-efficient Production on a Large Scale

Fewer manufacturing and assembly steps by producing a fully functional component in a production cell. Result: savings in weight, time and costs.

Result:

  • Your plastic component is provided with a film layer through surface finishing and functionalisation

  •  The component is visually upgraded

Plastic Surface Finishing with Various Types of Film Back-moulding
Film-Insert-Moulding
Picture shows process for film insert moulding procedure
  1. Preforming the film

  2. Positioning of the insert by a robot

  3. Hot substrate is injected by standard back- injection and fuses with the film

  4. After cooling, the material and film are ejected in one piece

In-mould decoration
Picture shows process for in-mould decoration procedure
  1. Foil is inserted into the tool

  2. Foil is positioned in X and Y direction and clamped by a sealing frame

  3. Hot substrate material is injected using the standard back-injection process and fuses with the PUR lacquer layer

  4. After the material has cooled down, the film is ejected in one piece

Roll-to-roll in-mould labelling
Picture shows process for roll-to-roll in-mould labelling procedure
  1. Foil is inserted into the tool

  2. Infrared preheating and vacuum preforming pull the film into the mould

  3. Hot carrier material is injected in a standard back-injection process and fuses with the foil

  4. When closing the tool, the film is cut by cutting edges

  5. After cooling, the material and film are ejected in one piece

Foil Back-moulding: Plastic Surface Finishing and Functionalisation of Plastic Components in Practice
    • technical moulding
    • automotive and mobility
    • electronics
    Flexible Process for Quick Design Change

    Foil back-moulding on a duo 350 with a roll-to-roll IML application. The film is fed via a roll, thermoformed on the machine and remains on the component.

    • automotive and mobility
    Production of Aesthetic Vehicle Interior Components

    Interior Door Panels for Vehicles with Different Surface Properties Thanks to Film Back-moulding

    • automotive and mobility
    Automotive Front Panel with Decorative Foil and Polyurethane Coating

    Production is done with one machine and in one cycle using film back-injection and flooding. For an efficient and simple process.

Picture shows injection moulded part made of several components
Multi-component Injection Moulding
combimelt

Produce innovative moulded parts from different materials in a single work step.

 

Procedural variants:

  • Multi-colour parts

  • Hard /soft composites

  • Thermoplastic/rubber Composites

  • Thermoplastic/LSR composites

  • Assembly injection moulding

Your Advantages with the combimelt Process
One-Shot Prozess

Produce components with up to six injection units that can be controlled simultaneously or sequentially.

Save Space and Energy

Machines for composite injection moulding with short cycle times.

Improving the Design

The process enables colour variations and different haptic experiences.

Reduction of Process Steps

The need for subsequent assembly and printing is eliminated. Different controls are produced in a single cycle.

The result:

  • Superior product features

  • Varied colour combinations

  • Additional component functions

Multi-component Injection Moulding in Practice

Experience combimelt technology at first hand. Integration of design and functionality on a tie-barless victory 330H injection moulding machine.

Video shows integration of design and functionality on a tie-barless injection moulding machine
Picture shows plastic TV housing
Variotherm Technology
variomelt

With the variomelt injection moulding process, you heat and cool the mould in every cycle. The injection moulding process is suitable for the production of housings for modern consumer electronics. Preformed organic sheets can be perfectly overmoulded with PC-ABS.

Your Advantages with the variomelt Process
Versatile Application

Ideal for injection moulding modern consumer electronics, light guide panels, lenses, design parts and much more.

Complete Mould Filling

Robust housings or transparent parts with thin walls & even surfaces. Reduce visible weld lines and optimise the moulding of grains and geometries.

Easy to Combine

With other ENGEL injection moulding processes such as organomelt, optimelt, coinmelt and foilmelt.

Perfect Finish

Thanks to overspraying with translucent Piano Black paint.

The result:

  • Lamination of weld lines

  • Improved surface impression

  • Easier filling of thin-walled structures

Picture shows operation of a plastic centre console
In-mould Coating
clearmelt

With in-mould coating technology the surface refinement of your plastic parts succeeds during the injection moulding process. A PUR topcoat gives your product additional added value through scratch resistance, self-healing surfaces and a well-made appearance.

Your Advantages with the clearmelt Process
High Component Quality

Scratch resistance, depth effect and a higher resistance to expansion even with thin coating thicknesses. PUR wall thicknesses from 0.4 mm to 10 mm are possible.

Easy to Combine

With other ENGEL injection moulding processes such as combimelt and foilmelt.

Innovative Details

PUR-flooded carriers with integrated, capacitive functional film for optimum protection and convenient operation (e.g. car centre console).

The result:

  • Scratch resistant surfaces

  • Self-healing properties

  • Optical depth effect

Flooding: Plastic Surface Finishing and Functionalisation of Plastic Components in Practice
  • Coating With ENGEL clearmelt

    Single-stage Injection Moulding Process that Combines Decoration and Scratch-resistant Surface Protection.

  • Capacitive Film Plus Polyurethane Coating

    Production of a centre console with integrated operating functions, protected by a polyurethane surface.

  • Automotive Front Panel with Decorative Foil and Polyurethane Coating

    Production is carried out with one machine and in one cycle using film back-injection and flooding. For an efficient and simple process.

IML stands for in-mould labelling. The surface refinement of the plastic component is achieved by using an inserted film that is back-moulded. If the film is already preformed, it is often referred to as FIM (film insert moulding). Other designations, which often differ according to the type of film, are IMF (in-mould foiling) or PFM (paintless film moulding). There are no standardised designations here.

IMD (in-mould decoration) is usually understood as a process in which colour is transferred from a carrier film to the component during back-moulding. The film runs from roll to roll. However, IMD is also sometimes used during film insertion. It therefore makes sense to discuss the exact process with ENGEL.

PUR stands for polyurethane. An additive reaction product of polyol and isocyanate, i.e. a thermoset. Polyurethane can be adapted to possess a wide variety of properties (hard-soft, self-healing, scratch-resistant).

PUR direct coating or IMC (in-mould coating) means that the thermoplastic carrier part is provided with the PUR coating directly on the injection moulding machine without intermediate demoulding. A combination of thermoplastic processes with a reactive process for the plastic surface finishing of parts is possible.

Discover More Injection Moulding Processes for Your Plastics Production

Over 20 Proven Injection Moulding Processes for More Economic Efficiency and Different Areas of Application

Picture shows plastic parts manufactured by precision injection moulding

Precision Injection Moulding

For more geometric fidelity, better surface quality and low component weight

Picture shows transparent component from ENGEL

Optical and Transparent Components

Injection-moulded components made of transparent plastics for perfect visibility

Picture shows lightweight plastic component from ENGEL

Weight and Distortion Reduction

Injection moulding process for lightweight plastic components to reduce weight and warpage of your plastic parts

Picture shows plastic component made of special material

Elastomers and Thermosets

A wide range of non-thermoplastics such as silicone, rubber, BMC or HTV can be processed in injection moulding

Christopher Stafford

Sales Operations Manager

Write to us

The ENGEL team will be happy to assist you with comprehensive know-how on the subject of injection moulding.