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High Performance Automotive Lightweighting Material Technologies

SpecialChem / Donald Rosato & Don Rosato – Mar 14, 2012

Plastic and their composites offer enormous potential for weight reduction in auto applications. Fiber reinforced plastic composites are typically 25-35% lighter than steel parts of equal strength. Reducing car weight would be a significant step in reducing CO2 emissions Performance front seats of the Opel Insignia OPC were developed entirely of plastic. These seats which do not include a steel frame are made of two nylon (polyamide, PA) materials and EPP (engineered polypropylene) foam. The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport has a top speed of 407 km/h (kilometers per hour). OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) particularly in Europe are achieving significant weight reduction benefits and 3D (three dimensional) styling using polycarbonate (PC) in place of glass in key glazing applications. A car windshield of PMMA (acrylic) is being trialed in the Lotus Exige race car. It is produced from Plexiglas developed by Evonik Industries. A new blowmoldable grade of heat resistant PPS (polyphenylene sulfide) provides a new lightweighting option for under-the-hood charge-air ducts. Until now glass reinforced polyamide (PA, nylon) has been the material of choice for air intake manifolds (AIM) since plastic began substituting for cast metal in cars more than 20 years ago. Volkswagen (VW)’s PP (polypropylene) air intake manifold is an automotive first. A transmission cross beam manufactured from polyamide (PA, nylon) is an industry first. With Ultramid A3WG10 CR, part weight was reduced by 50% compared to an equivalent aluminum metal beam. The world’s first mass production technology for molding CFRP has been developed by Teijin Ltd. The technology cut compression molding cycle times to less than1 minute using thermoplastic carbon fiber compounds

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