General Motors Corp. says a new polymer targeted for applications that now use metal could be on cars in six months. The modified liquid-crystal polymer is being developed by Quantum Leap Packaging Inc. of Wilmington, Mass., in cooperation with GM.
The polymer's main benefits are a low coefficient of expansion similar to steel, high stiffness and a density comparable with magnesium, said Charles Buehler, a GM materials engineer.
``The entire direction of the auto business is lightweighting, closing gaps and controlling dimensional stability,'' Buehler said Sept. 16 at the Society of Plastics Engineers' Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition in Troy. ``This polymer helps in all those areas.''
Buehler said GM is aggressively targeting the material for structural parts such as support brackets, under-the-hood parts and painted exterior applications.
Quantum has trademarked the polymer as Quantech. Studies are being done to validate the material for performance and processing. Mike Zimmerman, Quantum's president, said the firm plans to improve performance properties in one or two areas of concern.
``Six months is a best-case scenario, but it could take as long as two years for an application, depending on validation and other factors,'' he said.