Dedication You Can See: Thermoplastic Extrusions for Automotive

Project: Automotive Battery Plate Plastic Border 

Industry: Automotive

Customer: Battery Manufacturer

Services: Design consultation, prototyping & testing, custom tooling, custom packaging

Dimensions: .005 thick, 10 miles / reel

Quantity / Volume: 1.2lbs / 1,000 ft @ 2,400 ft / minute

Job Profile

An industry leading battery and power supply provider approached Custom Profiles for help solving challenges they were experiencing with their plastic borders for automotive battery plates. The piece needed to serve as a barrier between the battery plates and any contamination that collected at the bottom of the battery housing to prevent short outs, and the customer’s team was struggling with their existing configuration in a few different ways.

The Challenge

First, they were using polyethylene sheet, a commodity resin which was not offering enough strength and chemical resistance for the application. The polyethylene sheet was being slit into pieces that were .012 inches thick, and during assembly it was difficult to wrap the thick material around the battery plate. 

The Solution

Our engineering teams worked in tandem to select a new material and adjust the part design to solve these issues. We upgrade the application to polycarbonate, an engineering resin that features high resistance to sulphuric acid and greater strength than polyethylene. By using extrusion as the manufacturing method, we were able to reduce the thickness of the part from .012 inches to .005 inches, which fit better around the battery plate and also offset the increased costs of the new, higher quality material. Also, we were able to increase the size of the run for these high-volume parts because we could fit nearly 10 miles of material on each reel. We also introduced scoring down the middle of the part in the design to yield a more consistent fold during battery assembly. 

When it came time to execute the new plastic borders in production, we designed and fabricated entirely custom tooling in house to ensure we could meet the tight tolerances required for the parts, remain in compliance with the QS9000 automotive standard required for the job, and achieve a demanding output rate of nearly 2,000 feet per minute. Our tooling and configuration allowed the parts to travel seamlessly from extrusion to the belt and then to the winder for packaging.

With the customer’s previous solution, they had been facing some issues during shipping due to mold developing on cardboard reels. We created customized plastic reels in order to mitigate this issue. We also worked with the customer to align with their lean manufacturing methodology and support “just in time” inventory, making daily shipments to the plant and carrying direct delivery to the manufacturing line in the quantities needed daily.

The Results

The customer is satisfied with our solution, and volume continues to remain strong. These parts are currently being shipped all over the world from the United States to France, Germany, Brazil, China, Mexico, and beyond. Our ability to customize the tooling and production configuration allowed Custom Profiles to achieve throughput that none of our competitors could match.