It’s a story that started back in Rome, on the Lungotevere.
It was about six o’clock in the afternoon. I was walking at a fast pace: I had a meeting and wanted to get there early. I kept looking down at my feet while thinking about what I was going to say.
Not paying attention to what was in front of me, I didn’t notice a small group of guys on my way. They were all looking in the same direction.
You probably know that feeling of just being out of it, thinking about something else.
I didn’t pay attention to a beautiful painting on the wall along the river: there were flowers, butterflies and lizards, all contributing to making the town a little more colorful.
“Some very talented person must have been here.” I thought to myself as I kept going.
This could easily be the end of the story, but there’s more.
You must be wondering what this has to do with the first bi-injection pillar that was manufactured and tested by our company.
I’ll tell you.
That sight had an impact on me.
I later found out that the wall had been painted by Laura Galletti, who was actually living inside that shack she had painted. She was a former graphic designer who willingly became a clochard.
She had beautifully painted a small area, making it something unique. A nice place to live.
This memory came back to me some time ago, when Jeep asked us something peculiar.
The Jeep Renegade: a majestic car with an extremely large side pillar who could have resulted in a bit of an oppressive design for those inside the car.
You know how important it is to have a comfortable and beautiful design.
Our engineers immediately started to work on the car, so to find the best possible solution to bring together performances and design.
We initially thought about making the front pillar a little smaller, through a plastic component. Unfortunately, this would have proven not ideal in the case of the airbag going off.
That’s when it hit us: a molded bi-injection pillar allowing for the manufacturing of bicolor unassembled components.
How? You might be wondering.
Here’s the process.
First, the gray part is molded. Within the stamp, we’ve inserted nails that result in small holes in the components. When the component is ready, it is grabbed by the arm. The stamp rotates and closes.
An extractor, by moving back, provides a larger cylinder for the holes.
At this stage, the black part is molded. It isn’t simply mechanically hooked, it is also chemically attached as the propylene (at 200°C) enters the holes.
So, as the black part is injected, a mushroom-shaped head in the internal part of the component is formed, and the two components are attached.
What you usually had to mold with two different stamps, then assembly together, today is simply made in a single shot. It’s the One-Shot Bicolor A Pillar.
Here’s what the One-Shot Method is: it’s the possibility to make processes simpler, faster and more efficient, when it comes to manufacturing car components. Leading to:
Such a technique was applied to the Jeep Renegade, the only car to be equipped with such a pillar to this date.
We also managed to rotate a 1200 Kg stamp inside a 15000 Kg machine, when plastic molding usually happens on a rotating table within a small machine.
Mission accomplished: we had a better interior design and a more efficient airbag.
But there’s more.
We realized that the bi-injection molding through rotating table allowed for a reduction in costs, as manufacturing and assembly are carried out in a single stage, making a single component.
In a normal situation, it would be necessary to manufacture two components, and then put them together through ultrasound, vibration or heat. Our component is lighter, as there’s no need to add screws for the assembly of components.
Finally, a single bi-injection component grants more precision, as assembly usually includes some tolerance with the accuracy.
This is the only technique allowing for:
It must be noted that the product also improves in terms of precision and weight.
And it’s obviously replicable for other car components.
Take the Fiat Panda’s back shelf, for example, which SAPA’s been producing it for many years now: such a process could cut costs in terms of welding and workforce.
So, what is the catch? There must be some negative aspect to this innovative process.
In terms of results: no, there isn’t.
The only obstacle to such a process is the need for a cutting edge, last generation press, plus, an efficient rotating table. So, we’re looking at a pretty big investment. We’re talking about 800.000€ (500.000€ for the press, 200.000€ for the table and 100.000€ for the satellite group). This will lasts for a two year production span.
It is necessary to invest for this type of technology.
At SAPA, we did it. Not just for future optimization, but mostly for what concerns the research that is at the foundation of our work; the research that was essential in creating the One-Shot Method.
The One-Shot Method is the fastest technique in the world for the production of car’s components. The only method allowing for top performances and:
Research and Innovation have always been essential to my father’s, Angelo Affinita, vision. Such principles have guided our company for years now.
Much like Lucia Galletti’s small house on the Lungotevere, we want our products to be beautiful and comfortable, so that everybody’s daily needs can be met.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article.
Chief Sales Strategist and Member of SAPA’s Board of Directors
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