Vehicle lightweighting Korean style


Thermoplastic olefin (TPO) nanocomposites developed by Korea's Honam Petrochemical Corp. (Seoul) have delivered a 25% weight saving versus 40% talc-filled polypropylene through thinwalling and lower density in a side sill molding used in a Hyundai vehicle.

Weight was reduced from 4.6 kg to 3.4 kg per car according to Se Hoon Kim, Senior Research Engineer at the company's Daedok Research Institute. Use in B pillar trim, meanwhile, reduced mass by 30%. The nanocomposite compounds employed use Honam's Adpoly maleic anhydride-grafted polyolefin as a coupling agent. For these compounds to make further market penetration, Kim notes that technical issues such as suitability for non-painted exterior parts and the odor of interior parts need to be addressed, while pricing is also currently an issue.

Furthermore, Honam entered the long glass fiber reinforced thermoplastic (LFRT) market three years ago with its Supran product, available in base polymers polypropylene, polyamide and polycarbonate. These products are manufactured using a special melt impregnation process and come in 8-12-mm fiber loadings of 20-50%....
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