Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: John P. Coulter
Co-PIs: Israd H. Jaafar

A Lehigh University – TE Connectivity collaborative effort is proposed to develop innovative polymer melt delivery technology that will enable successful and cost-effective manufacture of high precision thin-walled connection products using liquid crystal polymers (LCPs) and other difficult to process materials. Such products are of critical importance to the transportation, telecommunication, and information technology industries. The work will involve the synergistic partnership of injection molding expertise at Lehigh University with industrial practical experience at TE Connectivity, a leading global manufacturer of injection molded connector products. The Pennsylvania based manufacturing company constantly seeks innovative and cutting-edge technology to meet ever-growing demands and expand industry applications. The specific objective of this 18-month project will be to complete the development and validation of technology that arose from a successful previous collaborative project partially supported by the recent RAMP program. The work to date has led to the development of an innovative manufacturing concept to overcome the primary barrier to successful hot-runner based injection molding with complex rheology materials. The concept has been partially validated analytically and a prototype initial molding system based on it has been designed and fabricated. The proposed project will propel the technology toward commercial utilization by enabling a comprehensive experimental exploration/validation of the concept’s capability along with further analytical support for the innovation. Much of the work will be conducted at Lehigh University with important field testing at a TE Connectivity facility also included. The successful completion of the proposed work should yield a validated commercial ready innovation that will significantly strengthen TE Connectivity’s competitive position in the marketplace. The work will also provide the students involved with a high value learning experience that can only be obtained through active participation in collaborative industry-university projects such as this.