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8/30/2017 | 2 MINUTE READ

The “First” Styrenic-Based Composite Gets Play in Automotive

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Ineos Styrolution partners with KTM to develop innovative design concepts for new StyLight.

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Among the highlights in materials technology launched at K 2016 was what said to be the first styrenic-based composite unveiled by Ineos Styrolution (U.S. office in Aurora, Ill.). Since them the company partnered with Austrian engineering firm KTM Technology to develop and propose innovative design concepts for a selected number of automotive applications.

These will be showcased at two upcoming international trade shows: China International Composites Industrial Technical Expo in Shanghai, China (Sept. 6-8) and at the 12th Composites Europe Trade Fair and Forum for Composites, Technology and Applications in Stuttgart, Germany (Sept. 19-21).

StyLight, a new generation of thermoplastic composites, with mechanical properties that reportedly exceed composites of nylon 6 or PC, are based on a modified SAN with glass or carbon-fiber fabrics for structural and aesthetic/semi-structural applications in interior and exterior panels, seat structures, door modules, center consoles, tail-gates, and parts with a carbon-fiber look. StyLight grades are offered as semifinished goods or thermoplastic sheets, which are ready for processing via thermoforming and overmolding.

Ineos Styrolution America LLC notes that integrating structural and aesthetic functions reduces the number of components for a given application and system cost. The selected automotive applications noted here, and to be showcased at these upcoming shows, are said to offer the highest integration potential from the perspective of the company and its KTM partner:

Door module—Typically, a door comprises three functions: an externally visible surface, typically a sheet of painted metal; a non-visible semi-structural part, typically supporting all electronics and mechatronics of the door module and insulating the cockpit from the water, and an interior visible surface. Here, Ineos Styrolution developed a concept to integrate the non-visible semi-structural function with the visible interior.

Central Console—This application is also very demanding with a directly visible surface, supporting electronic equipment and providing local structural stiffness. Moreover, the space available inside a console is very tight. It should allow sufficient room for the wire tree and storage space. Here, again, a thin wall providing structural stiffness and offering a high surface quality is offering potential for the integration of multiple functions.

Lift Gate—There are many lift gate designs available depending on vehicle shape and design. Different composite solutions from long-glass-fiber reinforced PP to SMC have been used for quite some time. Up to now, the interior visible surface covers the structural frame. Attempts were made to overmold a thermoplastic composite retainer by over molding GF-PP but this adds cost and weight. Here, StyLight again has a good value proposition to reduce weight.

Body Panels for Trucks and Tractors—A massive weight reduction is possible with the replacement of the thick SMC panel, which is currently being used in this field. Dimensional stability, class A surface quality, wind resistance, resistance to powerful vibrations are among the long list of specifications for this very demanding application. Some of these panels also integrate functions like front light or hood. Here, StyLight again has a good value proposition to reduce weight.

At both upcoming shows, StyLight will be presented by Ineos Styrolution, combining different surface aesthetics such as glossy, grained, and molded, as well as design foil and a semi-structural reinforcement, which provides a first impression of the material’s potential.