Thanks to significant advancement in polyurethane coating chemistry, RIM coating systems are now available that deliver automotive OEM levels of scratch/mar and environmental exposure performance, while including integrated mold release agents that enable high-volume automated production of parts. The concurrent development of precise and repeatable metering systems with modular color change capability was a key enabler for commercialization of this process.

In addition to meeting stringent durability performance requirements, RIM coating technology is also economical. The total cost of a part on the vehicle is cost competitive with the highest performance post-mold, liquid-applied coating systems available today. To estimate an apples-to-apples cost comparison, the analysis needs to extend beyond the cost per gallon, pound or kilogram. RIM coating technology benefits from a near 100 percent transfer efficiency and is a 100 percent solids coating system, which means that virtually all of the material ends up on the part/vehicle and not as overspray or emissions (VOCs) released into the atmosphere.

A recent study conducted by a global automotive OEM demonstrated significant cost/save potential compared to its current plastic parts coating process. The study noted that cycle time, process steps and scrap rates are dramatically reduced compared to conventional spray painting. These insights were a key driver in the OEM’s decision to begin the transition to RIM overmolding of targeted plastic parts that are currently painted.

As many innovative technology providers are painfully aware, for a new product or technology to gain traction in the competitive high-volume industrial and automotive markets, a capable supply base is required. Ruhl Strategic Partners has partnered with the following technology providers to establish the RIM Coating Technology Center in Livonia, Mich.: Hennecke Inc. provides its Colourline Metering System with multicomponent ratio control and color change capability, along with technical support to oversee future demonstration and development programs. Votteler brings to the partnership a broad portfolio of OEM-approved RIM coating systems, including a broad palette of colors, haptics and effects. The RIM Coating Technology Center is located in SA Engineering’s Research, Demonstration and Development (RD&D) facility, which features Engel Injection Molding Technology.

For more information on RIM overmold technology, visit the RIM Coating Technology Center website at rimtechcenter.com.