Aesthetic Perception of Visual Textures is Important and Valuable to Product Design
Expanded Polypropylene is shaping the future with beautiful and functional surface finishes, and is part of the product offer of DS Smith Plastics, Foam Products in the UK.
The latest advances in Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) moulding come in the form of textured surfacing that can improve the visual appeal and feel of a product and eliminates the need to be covered with an additional material such as vinyl, leather and others.
Today, the automotive industry is one of the biggest recipients and benefactors of EPP’s properties such as lightweight which reduces CO2 emissions; durability, impact absorption and cushioning that improves vehicle safety; and now visual textures that improve aesthetics and can eliminate the use of some materials used to cover components. However, EPP’s properties are becoming known to other industries such as HVAC, electronics, construction, aeronautics and more, where lightweight, durability sound absorption, insulation and aesthetics are key to the new generations of efficiency products.
Achieve a Grade ‘A’ Surface Finish and Improved Aesthetics with Textured EPP
EPP comes in a wide spectrum of colours, though black and white are the two preferred colours in the automotive industry.
An EPP part is made up of thousands of beads that have been fused together in a steam chest, without a surface finish these beads are visible which gives EPP its familiar moulded look. EPP mouldings are also covered in vent marks with core vents that allow the steam to pass through the tool and leave a circle of tiny embossed protrusions in the moulding.
While varying the venting can give a moulding a more consistent look it is not until texturing that the tooling can completely disguise the bead effect altogether.
EPP surface finishes can be achieved in a number of ways including:
- Laser tool etching (preferred method of texturing an EPP part)
- Acid tool etching
- Sintered bronze
Some of the most relevant benefits of EPP finishing include:
- Manufacturing of high quality visual and functional surfaces
- Production of lightweight parts
- Excellent fine detailing
- Unlimited design options of the texture
- Textured parts have no loss of performance
- Remove a secondary skinning operation