Corus announces a world first in making steel products that are formed and bonded with polymer in a single step. The technical breakthrough, known as Polymer Injection Forming (PIF) is expected to lead to a new era of innovative consumer and other products.
The technical breakthrough will be licensed to designers and manufacturers for the production of products as diverse as mobile phones, consumer electronics, light switches, IT equipment, kitchen appliances, cutlery, automotive components and garden furniture. Several international consumer product manufacturers have already shown an interest.
Steel coated with a thin layer of polymer is not new. It has been developed by Corus and used in the packaging industry for many years. But Polymer Injection Forming (PIF) is entirely new because it shapes the two materials in one step and bonds a thicker layer of polymer to steel, thus reducing several production and assembly stages to just one. As existing plastic injection moulding equipment can be used, investment in new machinery is not necessary.
Corus’ technology centre in the Netherlands has spent three years developing the technology. The result is products with the strength of metal but with the flexibility and freedom of form of plastic. The technology is expected to appeal to manufacturers of, say, electronics consumer goods requiring the electromagnetic properties and the look and feel of steel, but also the flowing curves of plastic. It therefore has the potential to add value to the product and to increase market share while at the same time reducing overall manufacturing costs.
The polymer can protect the steel’s sharp edges and is strong enough to be used as a hinge, spring, slide or lock. The polymer also aids corrosion prevention and product safety.
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