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Posted: Aug 10, 2012

Towards self-cleaning plastic components for the automotive industry

(Nanowerk News) The FP7 NMP project NANOCLEAN realised a textured mirror cup as demonstrator of self-cleaning 3D complex plastic components for the automotive industry.
This is a step towards developing an industrial production method for injection moulded products that mimic highly water repelling (super hydrophobic) surfaces found in nature.
This texturing technology will result in self-cleaning surfaces for outdoor applications, where rainwater washes off the dirt without leaving any traces.
Self-cleaning mirror cup mould during the texturing process and with the completed texture
Self-cleaning mirror cup mould during the texturing process and with the completed texture
Background
The goal of the NANOCLEAN project is to develop an industrial production method for injection moulded products to mimic the highly water repelling (super hydrophobic) surfaces of for example Lotus leafs. This property results in self-cleaning surfaces for outdoor applications, where rainwater washes off the dirt without leaving any traces.
For such super hydrophobic surfaces a combination of low surface tension materials and a specific surface structure is required. The structure of the Lotus leaf for example is characterized by micropillars covered with waxy nanostructures.
The project based on the lab-scale technology that was developed at the University of Twente and further developed by the spin-off company Lightmotif. Ultrashort pulsed lasers are used to machine a negative combined micro-nano structure into a metal mould. By injection moulding the structure is directly replicated onto the plastic products. This way mass production with functional surfaces is enabled.
The NANOCLEAN project aimed at up-scaling this technology by an integrated approach with the goal to mass-produce self-cleaning 3D complex plastic components for the automotive industry. This is achived by applying functional structures to mould surfaces and copying them to plastic products by injection moulding.
Read more about the project in this PDF document.
Source: European Commission
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