Leverkusen, Germany-Standard aluminum automobile license plates are unevenly lit by a small number of lights positioned around them. If these lights could be replaced, by an alternate procedure, it might offer designers new freedom in customizing rear-end design; and a more visible license plate could help in rear-end accident avoidance. If the license plate could shine from within, for example, it would make the entire unit highly visible, and of course this would eliminate the external lights.
A new self-luminous plate introduced by 3M has recently been featured in several automotive magazines. A custom-made special transparent polycarbonate film from the Bayer Material Science AG Makrofol Bayfol product line supports reflective film, from 3M, acting to distribute the light evenly over the surface of the license plate.
The plate made of Bayblend T65 incorporates the light source, which is made of numerous light emitting diodes (LEDs). The polycarbonate/ABS blend was chosen because it is dimensionally stable, less prone to distortion, heat, and impact resistant to temperature extremes.
The translucent front casing, on which the license details are positioned, is formed from a 2mm-thick sheet of polycarbonate. A special operation gives the sheet a matte finish on one side, ensuring that plate details are optically isolated for the light distributing system. A special surface layer on the sheet enables laser welding to create a long-lasting, tough seal between the sheet and the housing.
The construction is complete on the outside by the actual license plate details, a laminate of other special reflective and translucent film from 3M and the carrier from Bayer. According to Dirk W. Pophausen, a technical manger for Bayer Material Science AG, “It is important that our films can be formed with a minimal tendency to warp using the simple conventional cold-stamping machines found at the license plate workshops attached to vehicle registration offices in Germany.”
Marking a big hit at IMTS
Chicago, IL-As you walk the North Hall at McCormack you are struck by the change from two years ago. Then, three main aisles were heavily dominated by industrial laser related exhibitors, led by massive displays of laser cutting equipment from companies such as TRUMPF, Mazak, Amada, and Mitsubishi. Standing at the front of the hall, one gained a powerful image of industrial laser technology. This year the visual image has changed as the companies supplying laser cutters for sheet metal fabricating have chosen to reduce their presence at IMTS in favor of a stronger presence at Fabtech. The reasoning: IMTS is considered, by them, to be a machining show, drawing an increasingly smaller fabricating attendance.
On its own, this exhibit space reduction would not be a significant factor except that the large number of smaller exhibits, by companies that supply other laser systems and related industrial laser products, rely, to an extent, on the clout of the big exhibitors. The 2006 version of IMTS presented about 42 laser related exhibits in the North Hall, including reduced floor space exhibits by Mazak and TRUMPF. Among the larger, more visible exhibits were Rofin Sinar, PRC, Baublys Control Laser/ Control Systemation, LASAG, and Laservall.
After touring the five aisles that made up the area where the bulk of the laser exhibits were situated, one gained the impression that IMTS 2006 was mostly a laser marking show. We visited 22 companies showing laser marking/engraving equipment and for the most part these exhibitors told us that they were very pleased by attendance and business prospects, at least for the first three days, the heaviest show attendance days. In the two other halls we saw another dozen companies with industrial laser products, not counting a number of companies that showed laser measurement and alignment equipment, which ILS does not report on.
We met with and questioned all the industrial laser exhibitors and came to the conclusion that the results from IMTS 2006 would be closely evaluated to determine this show’s efficacy as an event for 2008. As a show of marking might, there is no doubt that IMTS made a strong impression. And because this show draws a diverse attendance from manufacturing companies who show interest in this technology, marking may well be the focus for the future. There is no question that the fabricating equipment exhibitors will maintain a token presence at IMTS because they are committed to the increasing attendance at Fabtech. But as one supplier told us, even though only 18,000 fabricating interests were expected to attend this year, they can’t ignore them, and thus they will continue with a smaller exhibit.