Barkley Plastics shines a light on automotive

Member News

Plastics and Rubber Weekly

20th June 2014

The creative use of lighting is seen as a growth area by the worldwide automotive sector as it can enhance interior aesthetics, help to highlight shapes and contours and create better sightlines within vehicles.

UK-based Polymer Optics, which specialises in optical design and outsourcing its manufacturing work to a number of moulders and toolmakers, approached Barkley Plastics for both the tooling and moulding project for a new light guide that features a single point light source with even light distribution. The guide has specialist design features which further improve aesthetics. Barkley was also required to determine quality, component assembly and testing for the new component which incorporates a single LED unit that illuminates a 500mm long injection moulded light guide evenly. Previously, this task had to be achieved by a continuous string of LEDs which would not achieved the tight curvature offered by the new unit but required a large space envelope within the car.

Matt Powell, Polymer Optics’ operations director, says: “We have reduced costs significantly for our customer with our design concept through the specially added features and via the advanced manufacturing techniques that Barkley Plastics brought to the production. All of these factors have enabled us to win the design and manufacture for another vehicle.”

Mark Harwood, Barkley Plastics’ managing director, adds: “Next year we celebrate our 50thyear of business and from the beginning the automotive sector has been a key and constant part of our growth. Key meetings and contracts with BMW, were a key part of last year’s activities and a raft of automotive work, including optical, has come through for us this year.”

Harwood declines to go into detail on the current optical project, saying “our core moulding process for this product is somewhat proprietary”.

But he adds: “What I can say is that it requires some very experienced technical staff and a fine balancing act between the machine capacity and the size of the injection screw. We are pretty confident it cannot be replicated elsewhere and we look forward to establishing some intellectual property in this area.”