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Engineering lightweight solutions for the global automotive industry

News International-French

15 Sep 2014

Borealis and Borouge announce the introduction of several new and upgraded material solutions engineered to enable the automotive industry to achieve greater cost efficiency, higher performance and improved sustainability in vehicle components.

The new lightweight grades Fibremod WE380HP and Daplen EE058AI are representative of Borealis and Borouge’s commitment to offering new and multi-faceted solutions to automotive OEMS.

In so-called hybrid grades, reinforcing polypropylene (PP) with a combination of glass fibre and mineral filler yields a special performance grade. As one such grade, Fibremod WE380HP is a new hybrid PP compound comprised of 20% glass fibre reinforcement and 10% mineral filler. It is intended for use in both structural and visible automotive parts, such as under-the-bonnet (engine covers, gear housings) and high-end interior applications (window frames, arm rests). As a replacement for other materials, Fibremod WE380HP is a lightweight solution that contributes to lower fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions without compromising on visual aesthetics or performance. The grade can bear a high mechanical load, offers excellent processability, outstanding dimensional stability, low warpage, good heat resistance and allows for self-colouring. In addition to this multi-talented new material, other lightweight grades being highlighted at the IZB include the pioneering PP natural fibre grades NJ200AI and NJ201AI, both of which allow for 9% weight savings when compared to a PP-T20.

The recently-launched thermoplastic olefin (TPO) compound Daplen EE058AI is not only lightweight, but also offers tiger stripe-free technology, as does the upgraded Daplen EE189HP. Automotive OEMs continue to seek out materials that help reduce overall vehicle weight in order to improve fuel consumption and fulfil stringent CO2 emissions standards, while still meeting requirements in terms of efficient processing and surface aesthetics. The phenomenon of tiger stripes - the visually recognisable periodic change of surface gloss – is caused by converting processes and is a general problem of all thermoplastic materials, including polyolefins. The newly-developed, tiger stripe-free TPO compound Daplen EE058AI boasts an excellent property profile and is a fitting replacement for conventional T15 and T20 interior materials.

“Borealis and Borouge are attuned to the needs and demands of the automotive industry,” says Harald Hammer, Borealis Vice President of Engineering Applications. “We will continue to develop lightweight PP solutions for automotive compounds that not only help our customers and partners achieve broader, long-term sustainability objectives, but also enhance automotive surface aesthetics.”

Long-term cooperation with automotive manufacturer results in regional premiere
Borealis and Borouge’s portfolio of global automotive material grades also includes Daplen EE158AIB, a 13% mineral-filled thermoplastic olefin (TPO) compound. This grade had already been adopted by Volkswagen as the ideal material solution for the European production of door panels in its new Up! model, and has now been chosen for Up! production in Brazil as well. This is the first time Volkswagen has selected a PE/PP TD13 material for its South American production operations. The grade helps the manufacturer achieve its lightweighting targets whilst providing excellent mechanical performance, high UV and scratch resistance, low emission and fogging, and superior aesthetics. Borealis and Borouge material solutions are also being implemented in the Up! model’s dashboard, centre console, pillar and sill panels.

Focus on South America: Borealis increases asset footprint in Brazil
The South American operations of global automotive manufacturers and OEMs are being even better served thanks to increased Borealis activity in the region, principally through the expansion of the plant in Itatiba, near Sao Paulo, Brazil. This EUR 45 million project involves the construction of an additional production building, two state-of-the-art PP compounding extruders, blending and raw material silos, warehouse facilities and a bagging line. In addition, extensive upgrading of utility and water systems is being carried out. With nearly 80% of the construction project concluded, the commissioning and start-up plan has already commenced. The improved plant is scheduled to go 100% on stream during the fourth quarter of 2014 and its output will significantly augment current annual production in Brazil of high-performance, high-quality PP compounds. Consequently, Borealis will be able to better serve growing regional market demand and pursue new opportunities in pioneering applications in the automotive industry and beyond.

“Our Itatiba expansion is a clear indication of Borealis’ commitment to becoming the leading supplier to the South American automotive industry,” explains Jost Eric Laumeyer, Borealis Global Marketing Manager Engineering Applications. “As we grow our asset footprint in South America, our expansion efforts will help solidify our current partnerships whilst at the same time enabling us to seek out additional opportunities in cooperation with new global partners.”