It’s not all about carbon fiber: Carmakers using traditional composites, too

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: September 18, 2013 1:26 pm ET
Updated: September 18, 2013 1:33 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Sustainability, Automotive, Composites, Materials Suppliers
Companies & Associations Bayer MaterialScience LLC

NOVI, MICH. — Carbon fiber has been getting all the composite glory lately, but suppliers of some more traditional composite materials point out that improvements to the old standbys are making them more competitive, too.

“If you look at some of the early products and compare it, we’ve almost cut processing time in half,” said Michael Super, business development manager for Bayer MaterialScience LLC’s reaction injection molding and composites group.

Sandwich composites using Bayer’s Baypreg urethane are seeing new opportunities in load floors and package trays, replacing parts previously made with textile-wrapped plywood or plastics with steel support structures.

During the Society of Plastics Engineers’ Automotive Composites Conference and Exhibition, held Sept. 11-13 in Novi, Super noted that urethane composites are used both in specialty vehicles like General Motors Co.’s electric Volt and mainstream volume products like Ford Motor Co.’s Escape sports utility vehicle.

Improvements in both processing and the material itself have made urethane composites more competitive just as the global auto industry looks for ways to reduce weight. A sandwich composite with a honeycomb core made of paper, thermoplastics, foams or other materials make it possible to produce structural parts that are 60 to 70 percent lighter than a reinforced structure using steel or plywood, Super said.

“You’re not talking about 1 or 2 pounds,” he said. “It’s reasonable to expect 20 to 30 pounds out of these vehicles on some parts.”

Improvements in the resin formula also make it possible for molders to see cycle times of less than a minute — at least 30 seconds faster than previous generations of urethane parts. That means automakers can consider using the parts in vehicles with a higher production volume, Super said.

The parts have an inner core that are sprayed with polyurethane, placed in a compression molding press then cured. Initial production of urethane sandwich composites was for small parts, such as sunshades, but have moved on to door panels, spare tire covers, load floors, sun roof cassettes and other components.

The urethane parts are more widely adopted in Europe and Asia, Super said, but North American automakers are now moving toward wider use, which is prompting increased investment in manufacturing infrastructure in North America, so suppliers can produce the same parts globally.


Comments

It’s not all about carbon fiber: Carmakers using traditional composites, too

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: September 18, 2013 1:26 pm ET
Updated: September 18, 2013 1:33 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Non-recyclable items gumming up the works at recycling centers

August 21, 2014 3:46 pm ET

The influx of all sorts of unacceptable items at recycling centers has gotten to the point that Charlotte, N.C.-based ReCommunity is trying to bring...    More

Image

Investment firm specializes in emerging polymer firms in Ohio

August 21, 2014 3:20 pm ET

A plastics market veteran is working with an investment firm and a research foundation to help commercialize polymer technology in the Buckeye State.    More

Image

Bayer, SCAC partner on water reuse project

August 21, 2014 12:48 pm ET

Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) and Shanghai Chlor-Alkali Chemical Co. Ltd. (SCAC) have entered into a preliminary agreement for the reuse of waste water ...    More

Image

Automakers look under the hood for the next lightweighting opportunities

August 20, 2014 1:06 pm ET

The automotive industry's current favorite target for lightweighting efforts is the powertrain, according to a recent survey.    More

Image

GameDay Challenge expands the competition to the recycling bin

August 20, 2014 10:23 am ET

GameDay Recycling Challenge is returning this year as college football stadiums will compete to see which school produces the least amount of waste &#...    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events