DETROIT - Automakers will use 240 million pounds of sheet molding compound in 1996, mostly for body panels and structural components, for an increase of 20 percent compared with last year, the SMC Automotive Alliance said. The trade group reported 70 new applications for SMC on 27 cars and trucks this year, nearly triple the number compared with last year.
The SMC automotive business practically has doubled in the past two years and should grow by more than 60 percent through the year 2000, said Al Trueman, SMC Alliance chairman. He is also vice president of worldwide commercial development for the plastics division of Budd Co. in Troy, Mich.
Trueman discussed the latest industry numbers for SMC consumption at the SAE International Congress and Exposition in Detroit on Feb. 27.
The trade group said SMC, compared to steel, is gaining favor for its light weight, lower- cost tooling and its ability to consolidate a number of parts into one piece. SMC is a compression molded composite material containing short fibers and fillers in a thermosetting resin.
Trucks, both pickups and heavy-duty models, are a big growth area for SMC. The new Ford Aeromax heavy-duty vehicle has 450 pounds of SMC material for body panels, roof air deflector, grille and other parts. Replacing a steel door with SMC alone saved 20 pounds of cab weight.
``Every pound you take out of the front end, you can load in the back end,'' Trueman said.
The SMC Automotive Alliance, based in Troy, is composed of 27 SMC molders and material suppliers.