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New John Deere Combines Harvest Design And Production Improvements Using Polyurethane RIM Technology

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 01 April, 2001  (Company News)
In promoting features of its new 9650 STS and 9750 STS combines, agricultural equipment maker John Deere points farmers to the massive harvesters' side and rear shields.
'Sleek and good-looking, they're made from composite material. They're stronger than large, multi-piece steel shielding, and more resistant to impact damage. Corrosion resistant, too. And they're easier to clean,' according to the company's Web site.

John Deere engineers designed the 6-foot by 6-foot, 56-pound rear shield on the STS Combines for production using reaction injection molding (RIM) technology, a proprietary in-mold coating process and a structural foam polyurethane RIM material from Bayer Corporation. All three elements came together to produce an impressive structural component that achieved significant cost efficiencies. The rear shield is entered in the annual parts competition at the annual Structural Plastics Conference of the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) this week in Atlanta.

According to Gregory McCunn, Supply Management Engineer, Composites, for John Deere Harvester Works, the company's engineers co-developed the rear shield with a rear engine deck that is housed beneath the shield. He said Deere anticipated making future changes to the engine deck, which might also require design changes to the rear shield.

Deere solved this design challenge using the polyurethane RIM process and an in-mold coating technology that produces a decorated part with a Class A finish right out of the mold. 'We opted for the lower-cost tooling that reaction injection molding (RIM) offers,' McCunn said.

Working with RIM molder G.I. Plastek, of Newburyport, Mass., McCunn said Deere was able to utilize a nickel-shell tool for the rear shield, which offered a cost savings of more than $150,000 compared with more expensive tooling materials.

'The size of the part, combined with the demand for Class-A surface quality at a competitive price, made reaction injection molding a very attractive option,' said Phil Cashen, Commercial Manager for G.I. Plastek.

Deere selected the Baydur« 730 IBS structural foam polyurethane RIM system from Bayer's Polyurethanes Division to mold the rear shield. The Baydur 730 IBS system is a rigid polyurethane structural foam system used in the reaction injection molding (RIM) process. This polyurethane system incorporates a specially engineered interactive blowing system (IBS) and is supplied as two reactive liquid components that form a foamed, solid material when they are combined during molding operations.

The Baydur 730 IBS system is designed for general-purpose applications in the construction, agricultural, consumer products, industrial, and specialty automotive markets. The applications typically take advantage of the material's strength, as well as its excellent surface finish, large-part capability and good flowability.

Lightweight, Structural Material

According to McCunn, the Baydur 730 IBS system provided a lightweight material that is structurally stiff enough that it does not require any secondary reinforcement across the more than 30 square feet of rear shield, such as ribbing or metal braces. 'Strength across the large surface area of this part was important,' he said.

Additionally, the Baydur 730 IBS system is compatible with the proprietary ProTek* In-Mold Coating System of G.I. Plastek. This in-mold coating process provided a 50-percent savings compared to competitive post-painting costs, according to Cashen, of G.I. Plastek. The ProTek system achieves a Class- A finish over the more than 30 square feet of the part within a 10-minute cycle time, he said.

Deere's selection of reaction injection molding technology and its less- costly tooling proved wise. McCunn said Deere is making design changes to the engine deck and adding the new John Deere logo to the tooling, which will be less costly thanks in part to the efficiencies of RIM technology. 'Deere will continue to produce this part with RIM,' he said.
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