Long Fiber PP Compounds Drive Innovation in Automotive

Long fiber thermoplastic polypropylene ( LFT PP) is now widely used in automotive front-end carriers, instrument-panel carriers, door panels, consoles, pedals, under-body shields and more.

A newly published report from U.K.-based AMI Consulting examines the use of LFT PP (long fiber thermoplastic polypropylene) in detail, noting that such compounds are driving automotive innovation.

Over the last few years, we have increasingly reported on the latest development in LFT compounds, in general, with resins companies such as Celanese Engineered Materials, Irving, Texas and SABIC, Houston, in the lead and specialty compounders such as PlastiComp and RTP Company, both of Winona, Minn., in the forefront of interesting variations.

AMI’s “Long Fibre Polypropylene compounds” is a detailed global multiclient study that predicts that demand for LFT PP will grow strongly in 2017-2021. The report quantifies the use of both granule LFT PP (LFT-G) and direct compounding and molding in-line of LFT PP (LFT-D) tracking down its use around the world. The result is a comprehensive analysis of LFT PP by application, OEM, LFT PP compound producer and geographical region.

Glass fiber and PP have long been combined to make car parts. Whereas short glass fiber compounds are longer established and the larger product family, LFT PP is the fastest growing. It is now being used widely in automotive front-end carriers, instrument-panel carriers, door panels, consoles, pedals, under-body shields and several other applications.

The report notes that the exciting feature of many of these applications is that LFT PP enables automotive engineers to either replace steel and thereby reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency, or replace more expensive engineering plastics. An example is the award-winning grille shutter on the 2018 Ford Expedition luxury SUV. In addition to reducing weight by 3 lbs, cost reductions of $66/per vehicle through innovative engineering are reported.

The AMI report also looks at the success of LFT PP in relation that that of LFT nylon and the increasing internationalism of demand and supply, including recent heavy investment in China by the largest producers amongst whom are Celanese with its Celstran brand, SABIC, Comusa (Funcster), Lotte (Sambark), and GS Caltex.