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Two new revolutionary thermoplastic technology platforms in the works at GE Advanced Materials introduce a new chapter in the company’s tradition of enabling automotive exterior body panels that offer a balance of lightweight performance, reliable properties against impact and competitive cost.
(Published on January-February 2006 – JEC Magazine #22)
For decades, GE’s expansive portfolio of high-performance resins has provided the foundation for the industry to address conflicting demands in a single application.
The High Modulus Ductile (HMD) and High Performance ThermoPlastic Composites (HPPC) materials platforms carry on this tradition, and represent the latest step in the evolution of higher gloss, sexier silhouettes, and safer, lightweight cars.
“Our role as a leading supplier of automotive thermoplastics has always been linked closely to our mission to be a world-class innovator of materials technologies,” said Mutsuo Aoki, market director, Body Panels & Glazing, GE Advanced Materials. “As the commercial release approaches for HMD and HPPC technologies, our company looks forward to expanding its scope of solutions for this fiercely demanding industry.”
Addressing technology and design limitations
HMD technology offers the potential for new and improved design flexibilities, parts reduction and enhanced integration for body panel applications. The new HMD grades were developed to help address technology and design limitations imposed by material flow restrictions, and to improve upon the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) seen from conventional materials used in current automotive body panels.
HPPC also offers an excellent CTE performance, indicating that it will likely behave like aluminium and steel. It is an excellent candidate for horizontal body panel applications, where it could deliver up to a 50% weight reduction compared to metals. For the end consumer, this could represent a greater fuel efficiency, and higher performance in addition to excellent impact protection.
HPPC also offers a Class A finish and superb mouldability for unique designs and modern curves. Its ability to be moulded with low-pressure aluminium tools indicates that, compared to metal, the material could provide an excellent balance of cost and performance for horizontal body panel applications.