A pioneer in the vehicle lighting and safety market, Grote Industries recently selected a Hysol®-brand Henkel potting material to enable a new automated LED lamp assembly line capable of producing over one million parts per year.
With the automotive safety and lighting industry quickly making the transition from incandescent vehicle lamps to LED-based lighting, robust protection materials in the form of printed circuit board (PCB) conformal coatings and advanced potting materials are critical for these products’ performance and reliability. Potting materials in particular must deliver superior environmental resistance and excellent long-term material integrity to ensure the proper function and safety of the products for which they are designed. In addition to advanced in-field performance characteristics, Grote also required a potting material with very fast flow and cure rates, so that it could be easily integrated into the company’s new, highly automated production line without slowing cycle times.
“We evaluated over 80 materials from 11 different vendors,” says Ed Sitarski, Product Development engineer for Grote Industries. “With over 19 different engineering requirements, formulating just the right potting material to meet all of our stringent criteria was no easy feat.”
Among the materials criteria required are: low viscosity; self leveling characteristics to minimize air entrapment; improved thermal conductivity and increased cooling capacity to enable greater light intensity and longer life; UL94 V0 fire resistance approval; and environmental safety and friendliness.
“These are tough standards to meet,” Sitarski said, “but after a lengthy 15-month evaluation and development process, Henkel’s Hysol family of custom-formulated potting materials emerged as the clear winner, and we are now running this product successfully in production.”
While Henkel manufactures a variety of commercially available potting materials for applications ranging from control modules to sensors to transformers to LED lighting, the partnership with Grote necessitated a custom-formulated material for the lighting specialist’s very specific requirements.
“From a technical perspective, formulating a material that complied with all 19 of the engineering criteria was quite challenging,” says Rob Eccles, North American Automotive Electronics sales manager for the electronics group of Henkel. “This is a prime example of how both customer ingenuity and supplier product expertise can come together to yield groundbreaking results. Our R&D team worked in close collaboration with the engineering team at Grote to formulate a product for their demanding requirements.”
The Henkel material also had to be incredibly versatile, as Grote’s line includes 10 different product families with numerous color and pack variants, which constitute a total of more than 60 part numbers. The parts also vary in size and shape - from 2 to 4 inches in diameter with rectangular lamp parts ranging from approximately 1” x 1.5” to 2” x 5”. The Hysol brand material had to be formulated for universal use with all of these various parts.
“The ability to fully automate our lamp assembly has enabled us to produce superior LED products with nearly a 35% reduction in cycle time as compared to the manual assembly process we were using previously,” Sitarski said. “With this increased efficiency, Grote has been able to reallocate its third shift labor in 2007 to other shifts or work areas.”
Grote Plant Manager Tom Blades concurs with Sitarski’s assessment of the return on investment afforded by the Henkel solution. “Material savings alone easily paid for the robot cells,” he said. “We also had direct labor savings, quality improvements, and enhanced aesthetics.”
Grote’s new award-winning automated LED lamp assembly line is producing a variety of exterior vehicle LED marker lamps under their SuperNovaTMtrademark. The new Henkel-enabled line of advanced lighting will be used in major trucking fleets, agricultural products, boating trailers and a variety of other types of transport equipment. “Henkel’s unique potting solution was critical to our success and will help ensure the safety of motorists, agricultural specialists and sporting enthusiasts everywhere,” Sitarski said.
About HenkelHeadquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany, the Henkel Group operates in three strategic business areas: home care; personal care; and adhesives, sealants and surface treatment. Henkel brands and technologies are available in 126 countries around the world.
For more information on Henkel’s potting and PCB protection materials, visit www.electronics.henkel.com or phone (949) 789-2500.
About Grote IndustriesA world leader in vehicle safety systems, Grote provides a range of components for OEMs and the vehicle aftermarket. Products include emergency lighting, flashers, forward lighting, wiring harnesses, coil cords, turn-signal switches, reflectors and conspicuity tape, back-up alarms, mirrors, and mirror bracketry. An international company headquartered in Madison, IN, Grote has additional facilities in Toronto, Canada; Waterloo, Canada; and Monterrey, Mexico, that employ more than 1,000 people.
For more information, phone (800) 628-0809 or (812) 273-1296, or visit www.grote.com.