At the VDI conference in Mannheim earlier this year, Aliancys, Daimler and Menzolit together gave a presentation about their successful improvement of SMC Technology for use in top-range Mercedes passenger cars.
Through an open collaboration and by sharing detailed process information, the companies were able to minimise production waste and improve quality consistency. This made it possible to realise a new segment of large Premium Class 1 components (like the deck lid of the Mercedes SL Roadster), and make SMC the technology of choice for many new car series to come.
While outer body panels for deck lids are normally designed in 2 pieces (an upper horizontal and a separate license plate area), the deck lid of the current Mercedes SL Roadster was envisioned as a one-piece solution. This eliminates the cost of producing two separate parts and bonding them together.
The large, horizontal and highly visible part has high demands on quality and surface aesthetics. So when starting full series production, Daimler asked SMC supplier Menzolit and resin supplier Aliancys for their support so manufacturing could start off right from day one.
During their VDI presentation, Aliancys, Daimler and Menzolit showed the positive results of what became an intensive multi-year collaboration. The companies fine-tuned their combined manufacturing operations for making the deck lid, through an open data sharing and an in-depth analysis to define opportunities for process improvement. This investigation enabled the parties to pinpoint to several process parameters that were affecting end-part quality, and to find intrinsic solutions for increasing process consistency. This resulted in great process robustness with a direct effect on quality and cost.
“Passenger car designers want to have unique shapes, great functionality and superior aesthetics, all at the same time”, explains Michael Polotzki, managing director of Menzolit S.r.l. “SMC technology can bring great solutions for meeting those tough design challenges through a very nice combination of benefits, including Class A+ surface, light weight, in-line coating capability, and cost efficiency. In this intensive collaboration with Daimler and Aliancys we have shown that the potential of the SMC Technology can be extended even further.”
“I really enjoyed working together on this challenging project with such great partners as Daimler and Menzolit”, commented Peter Hilzendegen, market segment leader SMC/ BMC of Aliancys. “We have all been very open in sharing proprietary process information and were able to challenge each other on a continuous basis. I believe that such an open collaboration sets the standard in the industry for developing better and nicer cars. It is also clear that process improvement solutions may not be just a matter of fine-tuning its own process parameters, but can benefit from the knowledge in the entire value chain.”