Johnson Controls simplifies production of soft touch surfaces

Faster way to produce high-end, sandwich parts

Burscheid, Germany - 30 October 2007. Johnson Controls, one of the world´┐Ż's leading suppliers of automotive interior systems, electronics and batteries, is the leading engineering partner behind the plastics industry's "Dolphin" consortium, and the driving force behind an innovative, dual component injection-molding process for automotive interior parts. The aim is to produce a high-performance component from substrates and soft foam surfaces in a single processing step.

The "Dolphin" consortium comprises the following companies: BASF AG, Engel Austria GmbH, Georg Kaufmann AG and P-Group GmbH. As Dr. Oliver Becker, Director of Advanced Manufacturing Engineering for Johnson Controls, says, "The Dolphin process has the potential for fast, high-quality, economical production of sandwich-molded components such as central consoles, armrests and glove compartments. At the same time, it will help secure the competitiveness of even high-wage manufacturing locations."

Far fewer processing stepsHowever, one of the main benefits is the reduced number of processing steps required, compared to the classic process that typically involves multiple stages. At the same time, the number of tools required is also reduced from four to just one and a half. The advantage of this is that significant cost savings can be made in producing practically identical components. Johnson Controls has already verified this with an armrest of a current vehicle model of the lower middle segment. Initial testing of the parts according to the specifications of individual automakers has been very promising.

This new development is primarily aimed at vehicles in the lower segments, which, for cost reasons, are built using components with untreated (tool blank) or painted surfaces. At the same time, soft touch surfaces in these segments could also greatly enhance the perceived value of the cars. Innovative production process replaces conventional processThis new production technology for soft touch interior components will replace the previously required steps - of injection-molding a substrate, producing a surface and then connecting the two components together to form one part - with a single processing step. A substrate is initially formed on one machine with dual injection-molding units by the classic injection-molding process. Then the tool turns over into the second injection-molding unit, where it is sprayed with special polyester blown with nitrogen gas. As the gas expands within the tool, the polyester begins to foam. At the same time, a compact skin forms on the surface of the tool.

Since the substrate material and the outer surface are chemically related polyester plastics, good adhesion occurs between the two layers. What's more - unlike the conventional combination of completely different types of plastic - it is also easier to recycle.

The new process is expected to be available in vehicles from model year 2010. Only recently, at the IAA 2007, Johnson Controls presented an armrest that was manufactured using the new process. At the upcoming K-Messe, anyone interested in this innovation can also get a general idea of the Dolphin process by visiting the booth of Engel Austria GmbH and BASF.

Further information is available from:

Johnson Controls GmbH

Automotive Experience

Industriestr. 20-30

51399 Burscheid


Astrid Schafmeister

Tel.: +49 2174 65-3189

Fax: +49 2174 65-3219

E-mail: astrid.schafmeister@jci.com

Ina Longwitz

Tel.: +49 2174 65-4343

E-mail: ina.longwitz@jci.com

Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI) is the global leader that brings ingenuity to the places where people live, work and travel. By integrating technologies, products and services, we create smart environments that redefine the relationships between people and their surroundings. Our team of 140,000 employees creates a more comfortable, safe and sustainable world through our products and services for more than 200 million vehicles, 12 million homes and one million commercial buildings. Our commitment to sustainability drives our environmental stewardship, good corporate citizenship in our workplaces and communities, and the products and services we provide to customers. For additional information, please visit http://www.johnsoncontrols.com