Foaming agent cuts mass without compromising appearance

Additives and pigments supplier Clariant (Muttenz, Switzerland) has commercialized a new series of chemical foaming agents (CFAs) that can reportedly assist automakers to cut the mass of plastic interior car parts with no adverse affecting appearance or performance.

Foaming has been used in auto parts before, but earlier CFAs made it difficult to achieve the consistent, high-quality surface finish automakers and drivers demand. Consequently, applications were limited to parts that were hidden from view.

The new-generation Hydrocerol, developed by the Clariant Masterbatches business unit, creates a finer, more durable foam-cell structure that allows manufacturers to achieve surface quality and mass reduction of between 5 and 20% (depending on part design and application). The results have been demonstrated in components molded from polymers such as thermoplastic olefin (TPO) elastomer, polypropylene (PP), and polyamide (PA), even parts made from up to 30% glass- and mineral-filled materials. Applications under development include door panels, ceiling panels and head liners, and instrument-panel sections (IP Lower). ...

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