A thermoplastic structural composite material from Bayer Corp. is making its debut on a new series of small recreational vehicles, with the company hoping to find success for the program on a wider mix of vehicles.
The proprietary Magicore line is a layered blend of extruded thermoplastic panels designed to replace metal and fiberglass, according to Bayer spokesman Bryan Iams. Now going into production for body panels on the Viking and Coachmen lines of pop-up campers produced by Coachmen Industries Inc., the material also could go into buses, commercial trucks and larger RVs.
``We're targeting this against the fiberglass market,'' Iams said. ``This is a new technology we'll be talking about quite a lot.''
The company is not releasing any details on what types of thermoplastics it is using in the Magicore program.
The material offers both aesthetic and manufacturing improvements over competing materials, according to Gar Warlick, vice president of operations for Viking, which is based in Centerville, Mich.
Both the fiberglass and aluminum panels Viking uses on other campers require a secondary lamination process. The Bayer material does not, which cuts the company's labor costs, Warlick said.
In addition, the panels have a high-gloss surface compared to other composites the company has used, he said. That is an important element for the unit's Viking Legend GP series of camper, a new line of more upscale vehicles.
``It really changes the look of it,'' he said.
Viking has committed to using Magicore for at least the next year on the camper, and it considering expanding it into other lines as well.
``It's up for evaluation right now,'' he said. ``This was the first use for us, and we're positive about it so far, but we'll see how it continues.''