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10th November 2017, Detroit, MI

Sabic reduces weight in instrument panel carrier

The instrument panel carrier of the 2017 MINI Countryman from BMW Group is this year’s winner in the Body Interior category of the Automotive Innovation Awards, an annual competition, now in its 47th year and run by the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE).

An innovative process combined with lightweight-enabling materials from Sabic helps reduce the part’s weight by about 15%, versus a comparable solid plastic component. The Tier 1 supplier on this programme is International Automotive Components (IAC) Group. The toolmaker is Siebenwurst.

Lightweight solution

The injection-moulded part uses a high flow concentrate long glass fibre-reinforced polypropylene (LGFPP) material (Stamax resin) from Sabic and a dedicated masterbatch solution in a structural foaming process with core-back technology.

The instrument panel carrier of the 2017 MINI Countryman from BMW Group is this year’s winner in the Body Interior category of the Automotive Innovation Awards. © Sabic

In this approach, the material injects into and completely fills the mould. The mould then opens to allow for foaming on the core side of the mould. This foaming part of the core-back technique increases the wall thickness of the part from 1.9 mm to 4 mm. This is said to deliver the required strength and rigidity characteristics without adding weight. This foamed solution with Stamax resin also typically requires less material during processing and enables shorter cycle times, the company explains.

An innovative process combined with lightweight-enabling materials from Sabic helps reduce the part’s weight by about 15% versus a comparable solid plastic component. © Sabic

“Congratulations to BMW Group and all those involved in this collaborative effort,” said Scott Fallon, Sabic’s global automotive business leader. “This award is well deserved in that success with this foaming technique does not come easily. Designing the tool and optimising the process for the best results requires skill, knowledge and persistence from all parties. We take pride in our ability to step in and provide the support required to help develop and validate this lightweight solution.”

CAE warpage analysis

Sabic performed extensive CAE warpage analysis to predict warpage behaviour of the part. The company says this evaluation, early in the development process, provided valuable insights for the design of both the part and the mould, which enabled building the mould correctly the first time.

The injection-molded part uses a high flow concentrate long glass fiber-reinforced polypropylene (LGFPP) material from Sabic. © Sabic

“This sort of computer simulation is standard practice when it comes to solid plastic parts, but the industry is still in the early stages of developing simulation tools for foamed plastic parts,” explained Mr Fallon. “As evidenced through this program, we have predictive capability that we can apply today. We continue to work on new material formulations and improved ways to predict the properties of foamed parts.”

SPE’s Automotive Innovation Awards is the oldest and largest competition of its kind in the global automotive and plastics industries.

www.sabic.com

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