A high-performance TPV with an exceptionally high melt flow rate simplified the deployment of soft, injection moldable instrument panel (IP) skins across global platforms for the 2014 Nissan Sentra. Asahi Kasei Chemicals (U.S. office in Fowlerville, Mich.), recently won the award for “Most Innovative Use of Plastics” in the Materials category at the 2013 SPE Automotive Innovation Awards for its Sunvieo TPV.
The design challenge Nissan faced was that the required 0.040-in. (1 mm) thickness of the IP skin was previously possible only with costly and sophisticated tooling technology—resources not readily accessible in every country in which OEMs have manufacturing facilities. According to Asahi Kasei’s TPV technical manager Yukinori Nakajima, the company reframed the problem. “If the solution lay in a higher technology material, then your only limit is having access to an injection molding machine large enough to produce a bumper—a solution that is globally achievable.”
The company approached TPVs for this application because of its inherent softness, which results from the high crosslinking within the material chemistry. Yet, the MFR of highly crosslinked TPV ranges from 0.5 to 2.0 g/10 min—a constraint that makes it impossible to mold a traditional TPV in an IP with 0.040-in. wall thickness. The uniqueness of Sunvieo is that in addition to being highly crosslinked, its MFR of 250 allows production of thin-wall IPs with pleasing look and feel. The ultra-high MFR of this TPV also reduces cycle time. Injection molded IPs compared with thermoformed or slush-molded IPs show cycle-time improvement of 14% to 80%, as well as a 15-25% lower scrap rate. The new TPV also has a low-temperature ductility of -56.2 F, which is suitable for airbag deployment in the world’s coldest regions.
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