Vehicle lightweighting as a means both to minimize CO2 emissions and to meet emission targets is a well-established trend in the automotive industry.
A component that has now been successfully re-engineered in line with this trend is the panoramic sunroof — an almost ubiquitous feature on new cars today.
Working in close collaboration with BASF, Grupo Antolin, the Spanish specialist in the development, design and manufacture of interior components for the automobile industry, has validated the use of BASF’s Ultradur materials in the plastic frames of solar and panorama headliners.
The use of these materials, in combination with a novel re-design of the part, has enabled an up to 60 percent reduction in part weight to be achieved compared to the original component, the company has reported. Changes were made in the process to attach the headliner to the frame, allowing certain steps to be eliminated, improving assembly tolerances and ultimately the perceived quality of the final part as well. Moreover, no solvents are used during production.
The Ultradur material used is a fiberglass-reinforced PBT, modified with an acrylonitrile and styrene copolymer, yielding a rigid material with good dimensional stability, thermal resistance and a low molding shrinkage value, ensuring compliance with tolerances.
“Thanks to the great injection performance and optimal surface quality, the PBT-ASA-PET is well suited for producing large and slim interior trim parts,” said Enrique Fernández, Advanced Engineering Director of the Headliners Business Unit of Grupo Antolin. “Besides, considering its unbeatable processing advantages, we have been able to reduce weight without losing stiffness or dimensional stability at high temperatures.”
Following the predevelopment work done with a German customer, the first pilot with this material has since been successfully launched. More programs with this solution are to be added for several OEMs a global scale.
The company has calculated that this lighter version of the component could lead to savings of up to 25,200 tons of CO2 emissions over the complete life cycle of a model — for a vehicle model with a production of 250,000 units a year, a life cycle of 7 years and average life use of 160,000 km.