Dukane feels honored and proud to be part of the award-winning team for Tonneau cover assembly on the 2016 Toyota Tacoma pickup. This winning team in eleven months designed and created a Tonneau cover that is not only flexible and lightweight but also provides the required strength and security to the end-user. All these unique features have made the Tonneau cover a winner in Parts Competition in Exterior Trim Category at the 2015 SPE TPO Automotive Engineered Polyolefins Conference.
The New Toyota Tonneau cover has a trifold design, which can be easily secured or removed from the vehicle. Thermoplastic polyolefins are injection molded to form the upper and lower panel of this design. Injection molding was the choice to get a consistent thin wall and dimensional stability. Further, these panels are trimmed for additional weight savings. Aluminum bars, “T” nuts, and nut plates are placed on the panels for required strength. All three panels have more weld area on the right and left side to prevent the use of a crowbar to pick up or pry open the assembly and provides security from theft.
Initially, leading suppliers of Vibration Welding technology from the plastic welding industry, including Dukane, felt that this application was a low-frequency weld application. Due to the high cost of the low-frequency Vibration Welders and the extra expense required to build the larger tooling, it was evident that using low-frequency equipment would be a very expensive way to weld these panels. However, Dukane’s technical experts kept an open mind and tested the application using both high and low-frequency Vibration Welders, proving it could be done by a high-frequency welder. Finally, Dukane built a standard 240 Hz Dukane Vibration Welding machine and kept the cost to a minimum.
Two versions of the assemblies were designed one for a short bed truck and another for a long bed truck. Dukane built three panels per version which means six vibration tools to weld the six individual parts. Dukane’s customer, Nyloncraft, welds these parts in batches. The quick tool change feature of Dukane’s Vibration Welders allows Nyloncraft to weld all the three panels of the bed cover using the same welder. Tools are typically changed in less than ½ an hour, much less than the changing of the mold tools.
The Inductive part sensing capabilities of Dukane’s Vibration Welders are used to make sure that all-aluminum bars, “T” nuts and nut plates are placed securely before welding the upper and lower parts. Dukane’s proprietary HMI software is programmed to look for up to 15 parts before welding the upper and lower molds of the cover panels. There are somewhere between 55 and 70 square inches of weld area on each assembly. Some panels are larger so they are closer to the 70 square inches of weld.
Initial challenges on this project were met with teamwork, persistence and clear vision. The result is an award-winning product that helps Toyota meet stringent CAFÉ (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards for mpg of fleet vehicles.
For more information on Dukane’s Vibration Welding technology visit https://www.dukane.com/plastic-welding-products/#link-2 or call 630-797-4902