March 29, 2021 | Case Studies

Cope’s ACM Alupanel Capabilities


Cope’s ACM control panel provided a unique solution for an OEM, using a material typically used for graphics applications to fix a costly issue in an industrial setting.

The Problem

The OEM approached Cope with an issue surrounding the control panels in their wreckers. The control panel is located inside the truck, but suffers from exposure to outside elements. At the time of the request, the OEM was manufacturing stainless steel control panels in-house and protecting them under a guarantee to their customers.

This created several problematic issues.

  • Material Cost. Stainless steel is a costly material.
  • Allocation of in-house resources. Prior to installation, the parts were made in-house, creating additional overhead and project management resources, further driving up costs.
  • Increasing warranty claims. Warranty claims, especially from cold, inclimate northern states, were spiking. Why? Damage to the stainless steel was caused by the deicing chemicals on roads. They needed an alternate composite, corrosive-resistant material. 

The Solution: Next-Generation Control Panel Design

We immediately started to look into a material that:

  • Withstands the harsh environments and chemical road deicers
  • Can be easily fabricated to satisfy the many slots, holes, and curves of the panel itself
  • Is readily available
  • Reduces the cost of the original material

We found an innovative solution of applying a graphics material–ACM–within an industrial application. The stock graphics color negated the necessity for powder coating, painting, and sealing. Skipping that step alone steeply cut down on material costs. 

What is ACM?

Aluminum Composite Material (ACM), is a flat panel consisting of two thin coil-coated aluminum sheets bonded to a thermoplastic core. This unique combination allows for great printing and machining options in a lightweight panel. It is widely used for signs and displays material, but we discovered that it has a much broader and more cost-effective application that goes far beyond signage.

Further financial benefits that we introduced by using ACM to fabricate the panels:

  • Decreased warranty claims
  • Improved reputation management (with reduced product complaints and replacement requests)
  • Significant production cost reductions (lower cost material) 
  • Complete part without needed additional painting and coating treatments
  • Cut down on down time from repairs


Cope Plastics team introduced a material previously unknown to this industry, and created a strong relationship with the OEM. This design continues to be implemented in other plants for the same application.

Learn More about Cope’s ACM Capabilities

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