Düsseldorf, Germany — A new material from LyondellBasell Industries NV (Hall 6/D24) offers an alternative to fabric-wrapped trim for the automotive market.
Softell Textile, a glass-reinforced polypropylene, is a single-material solution designed to mimic the look of a fabric-wrapped part but with fewer manufacturing steps and improved cleanability. The textile effect is achieved through a combination of mold texturing and carbon fiber flecks in the resin itself.
The material has already been selected for interior trim parts in production vehicles.
“During the past, A, B, C, D pillars have all been textile covered,” said Erik Licht, manager, business development at LyondellBasell PP Compounds Europe. “Now, for most of the OEMs and most of the models, only the A-pillar, maximum the B-pillar, is fabric-covered, while the other ones are plain PP,” commonly for economic reasons.
Softell Textile offers a potential solution for automakers to cater to customers looking for luxury touches in lower-cost vehicles.
On a practical level, the material is scratch resistant and easier for car buyers to clean than a fabric-wrapped part.
“With the Softell Textile, you just wipe it, it's clean,” Licht said.
As the part does not require any adhesive, the odor and volatile organic compounds are reduced as well, he added.
Automakers are able to save time and money by replacing multiple materials — a molded substrate, fabric, adhesive and a fastener like staples — and multiple manufacturing steps with a single, recyclable injection molded material.
Licht sees potential for the material in other interior parts such as headliners.
LyondellBasell, based in the Netherlands, operates 57 manufacturing sites worldwide with a presence in 18 countries. They had reported sales of $32.7 billion in 2015.