Dow Automotive Systems introduces Autothane microcellular PU to China

Autothane is a microcellular polyurethane system based on hybrid polyols and MDI technology from Dow Hyperlast. It has been specifically developed for impact, shock and vibration management in chassis and suspension applications (spring aids and NVH components) and will be processed by licensee partner Kumpulan Jebco and marketed globally by Dow Automotive Systems.

"Having the resources and technology of other Dow businesses available to leverage into the automotive industry helps set Dow Automotive Systems apart from other suppliers,” said Steve Henderson, General Manager, Dow Automotive Systems. "Dow's broad material science R&D and diversified offerings from businesses like Dow Hyperlast, are a huge benefit to our customers.”

A new production plant based in Yangzhou, China, is part of an USD 8 million investment plan by Kumpulan Jebco and will be operational in February 2012. The plant will produce NVH components from Autothane, a majority closed-cell structure with integral skin that gives components high abrasion resistance, good hydrolytic stability, resistance to microbial degradation, high damping characteristics and longevity of on-vehicle performance.

For many years, design engineers have been making use of the unique mechanical and dynamic properties of high density microcellular polyurethane elastomers. When used in suspension systems or vibration isolation applications, these materials are known to improve vehicle handling, comfort and ride quality. The Autothane team, which includes Dow Automotive Systems and Kumpulan Jebco, aims to meet customers' specific needs in product design, prototyping, component characterization, durability testing and validation.

The new plant in China strengthens the Autothane manufacturing base which already exists in Europe, North America, India, Korea and Malaysia. The plant will be operated by Kumpulan Jebco, an Autothane processing licensee that has been serving the ASEAN market since 1996.

"We have had a long and successful relationship with Dow Hyperlast and Dow Automotive Systems during which time we have seen the market change away from rubber to microcellular polyurethane systems for these types of applications,” said Kevin Loke, CEO of Kumpulan Jebco. "The expansion of our manufacturing base into China is part of a longer term plan to position manufacturing sites closer to OEMs where we will offer optimized service and support for the polyurethane and rubber components we produce. The plant at Yangzhou will be our first step and we are very excited with the opportunity to work directly with OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers in China.”

Dow Automotive Systems fully supports Kumpulan Jebco in their expansion plans and will continue to offer technical assistance from Dow's UK and China-based R&D facilities.