SABIC Offers Soft Touch for More Cost-Friendly Vehicles
One of the challenges faced by global OEMs is to provide soft-touch surfaces on interior trim panels. While these can be achieved in a variety of ways, one of the issues is that if there are secondary operations involved in processing those parts (e.g., painting, adding foam), costs go up. And if the vehicle is not in a price category that can support those additional costs, then the plastics tend to be hard.
SABIC has developed a new line of polypropylene (PP) compounds that, according to Scott Fallon, the company’s global Automotive Leader, can help “manufacturers deliver an interior environment that connotes luxury while controlling costs.”
These PP materials are available in a variety of types, including those with short-glass fiber reinforcement for additional stiffness. They are said to have scratch resistance on the matte surface, good impact performance, low shrinkage, and even good sound dampening capability.
Tata steering column cover
Tata Motors is the first automotive manufacturers to put this new PP to use. It is producing a steering column cover and a speedometer cluster top for its 2017 Tiago hatchback.
By using the material they were able to avoid using a paint system and have calculated a savings on the order of about 30 percent.
Which can help the end customer not only aesthetically, but economically.
Topology optimization cuts part development time and costs, material consumption, and product weight. And it works with additive, subtractive, and all other types of manufacturing processes, too.
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By James Gaffney, Product Engineer, Precision Grinding and Patrick D. Redington, Manager, Precision Grinding Business Unit, Norton Company (Worcester, MA)