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Technology Transfer and Industry News

Friday, 08 January 2016

PLAST4FUTURE enhances injection moulding production technology

This European Project, led by the Technical University of Denmark and with ICN2 as one of its partners through Dr. Nikos Kehagias and ICREA Prof. Dr. Clivia Sotomayor-Torres, developed a technology that works by enhancing the lateral resolution on free-form surfaces down to micro- and nanometer length scales. Its findings are summarized in a beautiful video.

Micro- and nanometer structuring has proven to be an efficient method to functionalize surfaces, and is attractive to manufacturers of plastic products. Plastic components are volume manufactured by injection moulding. Compact Discs and Digital Video Discs are today manufactured with nanometer range lateral resolution but, only on planar surfaces. Free-form (double-curved) moulding tools today offer resolutions down to 100 ?m, limited by the methods used for creating the injection moulding tools.

The European Project Plast4Future, led by the Technical University of Denmark and with ICN2 as one of its partners, has established a network of collaborators that worked for the last four years to upgrade existing injection moulding production technology for manufacture of plastic components. Dr. Nikos Kehagias, leader of the ICN2 Nanoimprint Lithography Platform, has been deeply involved in the project together with members of the ICN2 Phononic and Photonics Nanostructures Group, led by ICREA Prof. Dr. Clivia Sotomayor-Torres.

Inspired by the wings of butterflies, Plast4Future technology works by enhancing the lateral resolution on free-form surfaces down to micro- and nanometer length scales. The proposed technology enables functionality of plastic surfaces by topography instead of chemistry. This significantly simplifies the introduction of new products to the market, safer to produce and use. The proposed technology allows production of plastic surfaces with several different functionalities using the same material. This simplifies recycling and supports a cradle-to-cradle production philosophy.

In November, workshops at the Centro Ricerche Fiat in Turin (Italy) and the LEGO Headquarters in Billund (Denmark) gathered more than 80 participants and covered topics such as nanoplasmonic coloration for consumer products, fabrication of nanostructured functional inserts and replication of nano-scale features by injection molding. The demonstrators were exhibited so all of the participants could take a closer look of what has been achieved by Plast4Future.

The concluding results were shared during a final meeting held on 2-3 December, 2015, and hosted by the Technical University of Copenhagen. They showed the improvement in the plastic surfaces regarding easy-to-clean, colour decoration and anti-fog properties. The successful application of the technology has recently resulted in the first commercial orders for some of the partners.

Learn more about the Project results through its promotional VIDEO.