Tuesday, October 19, 2010

ightweight SBC-based Solution for Slush Molded Interior Soft Skins

Kraton & SO.F.TER. Develop a Lightweight SBC-based Solution for Slush Molded Interior Soft Skins
SpecialChem - Oct 19, 2010

FORLÌ, Italy -- Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc., a global producer of styrenic block copolymers or "SBCs," and SO.F.TER. SPA, compounder specialized in the production of tailor-made thermoplastic elastomers and engineering solutions, have announced the development of a new SBC-based alternative for slush molded interior soft skins. This was done in response to the demands of the automotive industry for lighter-weight, higher-performance, lower-cost, and more environmentally-sustainable solutions.

Slush molding is a specialized processing operation traditionally designed for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) based compounds to produce the interior surface of automobiles such as instrument panel skins, door panels, airbags and consoles.

"Kraton Polymers and SO.F.TER. formed a strategic alliance to leverage the leading innovation and scientific capabilities of both companies. This resulted in the development of a superior and more environmentally-friendly alternative to PVC and thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU)," said Michael Oberkirch, Vice President, Advanced Materials at Kraton Polymers.

This development provides a major technology and performance leap for the automotive industry. Manufacturers can achieve significant improvements in low-temperature performance, fogging, and recyclability while still using existing slush molding equipment and standard processing conditions. An additional benefit is lowered manufacturing costs due to reduced service temperatures and decreased processing time.

"Our new product provides a 30 to 40% reduction in material weight, better aging properties, and improved soft touch compared to existing materials. These benefits help automotive manufacturers reduce the weight of vehicle components, while still enhancing aesthetics and performance," added Oberkirch. "This is another example of innovation and collaborative customer relationships leading to a specialized product solution designed to meet ever-increasing market needs," he concluded.

Both companies will be showcasing this new technology at the 2010 K Show in Düsseldorf, Germany from October 27-November 3, 2010 (Kraton Polymers: Hall 6, Booth C80; SO.F.TER.: Hall 6, Booth A58).