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Ford is to introduce lighter engine covers moulded using the MuCell process, which injects gas bubbles into the plastic.

Metal parts can often be lightened by switching to a more efficient material, but it is more difficult to save weight on plastic parts without sacrificing strength, durability or function. The MuCell foaming technology developed by Trexel introduces a gas into the polymer as it is moulded, leaving micron-sized voids which form a  honeycomb structure. These tiny spaces save weight by reducing the amount of plastic used, without compromising the integrity of the part.

MuCell brings a host of other benefits with lower pressures used to mould the plastic and up to 33 per cent more parts per hour than a conventional process. This increase in speed and efficiency reduces energy consumption, manufacturing emissions and cost for parts produced using the innovative technique.

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The MuCell technology will see its first application in engine covers on vehicles such as Focus, C-MAX and Grand C-MAX, S-MAX, Mondeo and Galaxy in the next few years. Ford has committed to a minimum of 100kg weight reduction from its smallest cars and up to 300kg from larger cars by 2020 as part of environmental initiatives.

www.ford.com