The right partner is key.
As a converter, you can take advantage of this opportunity to work with your customers to develop new, lighter weight material constructions that will allow them to generate new revenue. You can leverage a wide array of products that will make you more attractive to your customers. The key is to partner with an experienced supplier early in the process so that you can find the product that will address all of your customer’s needs. That may involve using a stock product, or developing a custom product that meets very specific requirements.
For example, by combining different laminations, we can create products that have specific performance attributes, but at a fraction of the weight of other technologies. This is exactly what happened when we recently worked with a customer on a shaftless steering system component. The customer utilized technology in the new steering systems employed in cars that will be manufactured in 2015 and beyond that will no longer have long steering column shafts. The new technology involves “steer by wire”. This pulls a considerable amount of weight out of the automobile and allows for other components to be more easily installed in the firewall of modern vehicles.
We are also involved in the development of conductive coatings that automotive manufacturers are looking at to replace the traditional wiring harness. Imagine a car where electronic signals travel through a conductive laminate in your headliner instead of traditional wiring. Once again, this process involves lightweighting the vehicle and also opens up space for alternative uses, such as enhancing space, lighting, and passenger comfort.
Finally, even within the realm of pressure-sensitive films, there are opportunities to lightweight. Although material costs continue to climb, lighter and thinner substrates are becoming more popular, allowing for reductions in waste, cost, and weight. At the same time, new laminating processes and adhesives with quicker curing and dry times help to support more uses.
Partnering with customers and end users to help you enhance your own technologies is where FLEXcon can assist by offering toll-coating services. With our short-run manufacturing capabilities, we can coat products using a variety of technologies to convert your materials (toll coating) or your materials and our adhesives and topcoats (custom coating) into either a sub-component or the final product.
We can also provide vast technical knowledge in the form of an experienced product development team and polymer scientists and experts. This exchange of information can lead to ongoing conversations with your customers, keeping you in the loop as they continuously seek lighter alternatives to today’s products.
So if you are looking to make the most of opportunities in this constantly evolving field, we can provide you with the technology, the products, and the knowledge to make the most of lightweighting.