Robotic flame-treating cells at Eissmann Automotive enhance interior leather components of popular premium vehicles
While sports cars and high performance vehicles turn heads as they breeze down the street, the real thrill is to be behind the wheel, in the cockpit, feeling the car respond to a subtle turn or touch of the accelerator. For some of the best designed cars, it is a privilege just to sit in the driver’s seat, whether they are moving or not, just to take in the sleek interior features, ergonomically placed controls, and exquisite leather trim.
For nearly 50 years, Eissmann Group Automotive has specialized in supplying high-end leather trim and automotive interior components for virtually all the well-known manufacturers in the automotive industry. Through a passion for innovation and a keen eye for detail, their work has made major contributions to the driver and passenger experience in some of the most celebrated vehicles across the globe.
The recent design and installation of a robotic flame-treating cell in Eissmann’s Pell City, Alabama facility is representative of this attention to detail, and the drive to continually improve manufacturing processes.
Eissmann’s core business is to finish any interior components of passenger vehicles that are wrapped in leather, with the exception of seats. This includes glove boxes, door panels, gear shift modules and complete instrument panels (i.e. dashboards). The components vary in size, shape and complexity, many wrapped with padding in addition to leather, with other, “hard cladding” parts featuring leather attached directly to the substrate frame, often made of polypropylene plastic.
While the polypropylene substrate frames provide the perfect balance of strength and low weight that car manufacturers demand, polypropylene and other plastics can be difficult materials to adhere things to without some sort of surface preparation.
Surface Treatment increases surface energy for better adhesion
Treating plastics with either atmospheric plasma or flame treatment is known as an effective means of cleaning and functionalizing a surface to enhance its ability to form strong bonds with an adhesive. Treatment oxidizes the surface, creates a high surface energy and increases potential bonding sites. Applying the adhesive soon after treatment is a best practice, as treatment will decay over time. In this application, the treatment easily lasts longer than the one production shift required before the padding or leather needs to be adhered.