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Development of Polymer Halter for Oil Filters

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PolyHalter (Development of Polymer Halter for Oil Filters)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2016-11-30

PolyHalter project was a direct response to demands for innovative, cost-effective solution which would allow car manufacturers to install lighter, more efficient and lower-priced engine parts (with smaller number of assembly parts). Development of polymer oil filter halter represents significant technological advance in field of engine parts, giving Polycom access to still-developing niche market and significant advantage over competitors.

Additionally, new process (and injection moulding tools) for injection moulding of polymer filter halters also needed to be further optimized to allow manufacture of up to 20 different types of polymer halters in 5 years after completion of the project, for various industries (automotive industry, compressor manufacturing, electro industry, home appliances industry, aircraft industry and similar).

PolyHalter project had three specific objectives:
1. To carry out all necessary innovation activities to bring newly developed polymer oil filter halter to industrial readiness (TRL 9);
2. To prepare and carry out all necessary commercialisations activities needed to bring newly developed polymer oil filter halter to market readiness;
3. To further optimize new process (and injection moulding tools) for polymer injection moulding of polymer halters.

All three objectives were successfully completed on time. Through visiting potential customers, we also got additional business opportunities, thus being able to present our company as a reliable supplier for other polymer components. With these parallel activities we already gained additional 300.000€ of turnover before the end of the project.

From the technical point of view the patent filing was the most important activity; during the project running we discovered a new way of fixing principle, which can be used for fixing the Halter or brackets to a housing or to car body. A patent pending is also a business asset, which is commonly used to establish a licensing deal, raise business startup capital, or enter into a joint business venture. Out of this reasons we found this application wary important and essential, to develop business in proper way in the future.
Communication activities were done to inform the general public, automotive industry and the other potential users of the findings, about the project activities and what are the benefits and results from the project. These activities included press conference at the start of the project, accompanied by a press release. At the very start of the project the brochure and project webpage has been produced to explain the action’s work to general public. To better present the project to interested technical public the local workshop was organised. Polycom research team-member, Mateja Šenk, wrote an article based on the team's research work.

Technical work started with an optimisation of the parts to be ready for additional testing and demonstration in operational environment, starting with absorption of sound and vibrations, checking the grip between halter and oil filter, halter static stability and tolerance analysis. These tests were a trigger for further part optimisation, where design was changing in order to improve sound properties and to improve the appearance of the final product (remove sink areas, better reflection).

As soon as the optimised parts were produced, the testing in operational environment started. Since PolyHalter application demands wide operation range, the tests were only option to gather results needed to evaluate the part. Results showed positive results in all points, thus giving us guidelines for other replication projects.

Technical visits started soon after first tests were finished and information collected in leaflets and presentations. We tried to visit as many potential clients as possible (particularly within Polycom’s vast network of existing clients/customers and their clients/customer). We were presenting/demonstrating newly developed polymer oil filter halter and its functionality and afterwards collecting feedback from customers.

Marketing activities had a goal to spread the project result between the potential customers and encouraging them to use PolyHalter results on new products. To support this activity the detailed commercialisation strategy has been prepared with market entry and growth strategy, marketing culture, getting new business partners and keeping the competitiveness.

At the end another round of customer visits took place. Results were presented and new business possibilities were discovered. In general, these visits were very successful. On 3 meetings out of 4, we got confirmation to start with prototype tooling in order to bring prototype parts to customers as fast as possible.

With a filed patent application for the new innovation, Polycom is positioned among developing companies, which are clearly taking care for the knowledge.
Main novelty of proposed project lies in the materials and newly developed injection moulding tools used to produce oil filter halter, using advanced thermoplastics instead of aluminium. In turn, this will lead to improved performance of the whole engine, lower production costs, lighter and more energy efficient high volume vehicles and significant decrease in waste.

Oil filter halter made of thermoplastic materials addresses the need for replacement of car components with lighter solutions that will consequently reduce the total weight of the car (to 300-500g), which is the objective in long term (contributes to other performances of the car like fuel consumption, ecology in way of emissions, lower price, part is ready for electrical vehicles). New product also addresses the needs for replacement of car components made of heavy materials that are not eco-friendly, which contributes to cleaner production of car parts.

The newly developed and optimized new process and tools for injection moulding of polymer halters will also have potential to be used for different applications in transport and other industries. With some modification, it can be used for different types of halters in compressor manufacturing, electro industry, home appliances industry, aircraft industry and similar.

There were some additional issues (technical and social), arising during the project progress. Technical issue was the electrical conductivity; this problem rose at one customer visit, and come to be very important for the additional value of the part. Solving this topic has given us an additional advantage on results, since the number of components/system has decreased on the customer side. There were several activities done (including tools and material testing), and the result was confirmed. Consequently, we are able to offer our potential customers a filter assembly with more functions, thus reducing the number of components.

It was also very interesting for us, that the PolyHalter results were immediately transferrable to another technical field of cable holders in automotive industry. With this, a new field of usage was opened, and first contract was already signed during commercial visit at the end of the project.

In addition to this, it looks that the technical content in the filed patent may be interesting also in other technical fields, not only halters (for instance: adjusting screws in steering, fixing elements in moving parts, sealing plugs, etc.).
Polyhalter development - past, present and future