When Perei Group Ltd encountered quality issues moulding external trim parts for the Lotus Evora, they turned to Plastribution for a technical material and support that not only provided them with a high quality solution, but also placed them in a prime position to gain new future business.

 

A new business opportunity

With over 70 years of experience and innovation in vehicle lighting, Perei Group is one of Europe’s leading companies in automotive lighting. It is in this role that the company has worked with Plastribution for the last six years as a supplier of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) resins for standard clear lenses for its products. Yet it was during Perei’s involvement in a new, non-lighting project for the prestige Lotus Evora sports car that the company was able to draw from Plastribution’s extensive polymer knowledge and broadening product portfolio.

Perei had been requested by Lotus to mould three parts – an engine cover, A-Pillar and washer cover – in ASA, yet initial pre-production runs of the parts revealed significant problems with the material in terms of its heat, scratch and UV resistance and surface appearance. Indeed such were the problems, particularly for the highly visible engine cover, that reject rates at Perei were as high as 25% whilst 30% of those products sent to Lotus were also being returned. Perei first considered spray-painting the ASA parts to gain a better, gloss finish, yet this would have increased their cost to produce by some 400%.

It was at this point that Perei turned to Plastribution, which – as an established and technically experienced supplier of Evonik PMMA resins – was able to recommend PLEXIGLAS® Hi-Gloss NTA-1. Besides the established properties of PLEXIGLAS®, such as good flow, high mar resistance, good weather resistance and good polishability, PLEXIGLAS® Hi-Gloss NTA-1 offers the added benefits of increased impact strength, good heat deflection temperature under load and a superior brilliance, high-gloss (Class A) surface finish.

“We were initially asked by Perei if we could supply a piano black ASA, but once we knew the application we recommended PMMA,” recalls Iain Richmond, business development executive at Plastribution. “The time we had previously invested familiarising ourselves with the Evonik product range meant that we knew that this was the material of choice for external parts at numerous OEMs and we already had experience of the material in new applications.”

 

Success in a key project

Facilitating cooperation between the development partners at Lotus and Perei and material specialists at Evonik, Plastribution arranged for material samples to be sent for joint moulding trials which saw modifications made to the tool and the optimization of processing conditions. All parties are pleased with the outcome of the change to PLEXIGLAS® Hi-Gloss NTA-1 and production is now moving along smoothly with very low reject rates (down to around just 3%). Plastribution is able to hold local stocks of the material for call-off by Perei.

“Plastribution had the best material for the job and the know-how to make it work in this particular application,” confirms Steve Bamber, operations manager at Perei. “Returns from Lotus are almost unheard of whilst our success in this project has opened other doors for us to supply plastic components beyond lighting for other premier niche automotive manufacturers.”

Images: Lotus Evora & below, engine cover.

Perei submission – engine cover image