The new Opel Astra OPC, a sport coupe that was introduced at the Geneva Auto Show at the beginning of March 2012, has a seat pan made from a thermoplastic laminate with continuous fiber reinforcement (an "organo sheet"). This is the world's first auto seat pan based on this technology manufactured for a production vehicle. The seat pan uses a specialty polyamide from BASF's Ultramid product range and is 45% lighter than its predecessor.
Thermoplastic laminates with continuous fiber reinforcement, also called composites, are processed from plastic-impregnated fabrics. They serve as the reinforcement in plastic parts that must be especially lightweight yet still exhibit exceptional performance. BASF (Ludwighshafen, Germany) developed two special Ultramid grades for the Opel Astra OPC seat pan: an unreinforced grade that acts as the material in which the glass fiber fabric is embedded, and an impact-modified, short glass fiber-reinforced Ultramid that is used as the overmolding material to achieve the necessary ribs and edges of the part by means of conventional injection molding. Thanks to the high strength of the laminate, the wall thicknesses can be reduced considerably, allowing the weight of the seat pan to be lowered significantly....