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Composites

Coloured carbon covers for IQOS devices

Twill weave carbon fibre fabrics with polycarbonate organo sheets selected.

23rd March 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  London

Industrial

Hypetex and Philip Morris International (PMI) have recently collaborated on a development programme to create coloured carbon composite covers for smoke-free IQOS tobacco heating devices.

London-based Hypetex identified a viable composite material solution and established an easily scalable production process and manufacturing supply chain for the brand using its in-mould, coloured composite technology. It coordinated all aspects of the design, engineering, materials, and technical direction, from the initial concept through to the final solution selected for production.

Thermoset and thermoplastic materials were considered for the IQOS cosmetic covers, but early-stage trials showed improved results with thermoplastics. As a result, Hypetex coloured 3K twill weave carbon fibre fabrics with polycarbonate (PC) organo sheets were chosen for the final parts, with Hypetex turning to Formaplex, based in Portsmouth, UK, for manufacturing capacity and technical support as the compression moulding, machining and then overmoulding processes were finalised.

The key challenge was to keep processing time to a minimum. Multi-cavity tooling and machine jigs met the compression moulding and CNC machining requirements before the Hypetex carbon covers were returned to the moulding machine for overmoulding with transparent PC materials. A final two-coat protective lacquer was applied, with 50 parts per process batch keeping cycle times to a minimum.

© Hypetex

The final part of the manufacturing operation – and a key requirement for the IQOS brand – was to prove out the process for the application of IQOS logos for the new carbon cover parts. Promising initial results were quickly optimised, with a jig holding multiple parts and a rapid laser etching process satisfying all the PMI branding specifications.

With all proof-of-concept work completed, a batch of 300 prototype parts was manufactured. Total per unit cycle time was only five minutes per unit, with the initial batch run identifying further cycle time reduction opportunities for a fully optimised production process.

“The IQOS components were a challenging project for us, bringing together several tooling concepts and coordinating manufacturing processes for the final tightly tolerance multi-material parts, all achieved within the shortest possible cycle time,” said Hypetex CEO Marc Cohen. “For these types of consumer products, Hypetex provides customers with an end-to-end solution enabling coloured carbon composite finishes as part of a fully integrated manufacturing processes.”

www.hypetex.com

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