ABS is going on vacation.
Coachmen Recreational Vehicle Co. of Elkhart, Ind., teamed up with Bayer Corp., Spartech Corp. and Viking Formed Products to create ABS parts for recreational trailers.
ABS is the latest polymer to replace parts of the trailers that historically have been made of fiberglass, Jim Johnson, Coachmen vice president of sales, said in a July 1 telephone interview.
Making the shell of the trailers out of fiberglass has forced the manufacturer to stick to a square design for the past 30 years. ABS can be thermoformed into various shapes, updating the trailer's look, he said.
``We wanted to get away from that [square] style,'' to resemble the more-rounded shapes of vehicles, Johnson said.
Bayer's Plastics Division in Pittsburgh developed an ABS material with the right properties: low weight, impact resistance and processing consistency. Coachmen uses the parts for the end caps and ground effects on the trailers.
The ABS parts are 45 percent lighter than fiberglass, which boosts gas milage for the consumer, said Fred Zaganiacz, business manager for Bayer's extrusion business.
ABS also is more weatherable than fiberglass. The material has a high-gloss finish that can't be faded by the sun, the company said. And, when ABS gets scratched, the abrasions go unnoticed because the color is built into the part, Johnson said.
Coachmen has enlisted Middlebury, Ind.-based Viking to thermoform the ABS sheet, which is supplied by Spartech's plant in Greenville, Ohio.
Viking is able to manufacture the parts and assemble them in about 30 minutes, as opposed to the fiberglass process, which took about eight hours, said Phil Troyer, a Viking representative.
Using ABS also reduces air emissions, and ABS is easier to recycle, Zaganiacz said.
Though recreational vehicles still are made mainly of fiberglass, Johnson said ABS soon could become the primary material.