Houston — The 2021 Buick GL6 features the first commercial application of Kraton Corp.'s injection-molded soft skin technology in an automotive application.
Released by SAIC-GM in China last November, the GL6 uses an instrument panel skin manufactured using IMSS technology.
Employing ultra-high flow TPEs based on hydrogenated styrenic block copolymers (HSBCs), IMSS offers an alternative to PVC, which is typically used in this application.
Unlike slush-molded PVC versions, HSBC-based soft skins allow injection molding of large, thin-walled soft skin parts, such as instrument panel skins, according to Kraton.
They provide lower odor, fogging, VOCs, better aging, subsequently improved safety performance, and lower specific gravity, the company said. They contain no added plasticizer, phthalates, or cross-linking agents.
"It's a growing trend in the auto industry to introduce soft surfaces replacing hard plastic interiors," said Bas Hennissen, Kraton's commercial VP of the specialties business. "IMSS technology offers considerable cost and performance advantages over the existing soft skin technologies, with a better sustainability profile.
"It is exciting to see the successful application of IMSS technology mass-produced in the GL6 project. Now proven in the marketplace, we feel there will be more car models manufactured with IMSS technology."
IMSS technology was featured among the first Top 10 entries in ERJ's Elastomer for Sustainability rankings.
Kraton is a global producer of specialty polymers and high-value bio-based products derived from pine wood pulping co-products.