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Design News, January 2013

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Materials & Assembly the overall performance of the system. DENSO collaborated with PolyOne, a leading materials solutions provider, on a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) solution that met their in-service performance goals while reducing the total system cost by eliminating the LBP-003 (4.5 X 7.5).ai 1 11/29/2010 1:28:27 PM C M Y CM MY CY CMY K need to pre-dry the material. The TPE alternative also provided more than a 5 percent improvement in processing efficiencies thanks to shortened cycle time and scrap reductions. Current metal replacement projects prove that it isn't always just steel that's being replaced. Thermally conductive polymers are now replacing aluminum, which is a traditional lightweight alternative to steel for automotive designs. Aluminum heat sinks are used in automotive high-brightness LED headlamps to reduce overheating and hot spots that can shorten the lifespan of the entire unit and reduce its lighting performance. While LEDs consume less energy, managing the heat generated by LED electronics is critical to maintaining useful life and energy efficiency. Replacing aluminum heat sinks with thermally conductive polymers that are 40 percent less dense than aluminum enables efficient heat dissipation like aluminum while also reducing weight. Headlamp suppliers are also finding that a move from aluminum to plastic also gives them the ability to create custom shapes to meet the need for product differentiation among automakers, for which headlamps have become a signature. In addition, the removal of secondary operations such as drilling and painting are a welcome benefit. How it's Done To make materials replacement successful, the first step involves bringing design team members and material supplier technologists together to evaluate the overall system and opportunities for improving it. Rather than taking a silo approach, in which each component is designed in relative isolation, designers and their material suppliers together evaluate the product in terms of function, looking for areas where plastics and/or TPEs can provide equivalent performance to traditional materials along with a host of other benefits. Design News | jaNuary 2013 | www.d esign n ews.com –54–

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