Low-friction ABS, PC/ABS grades target critical automotive applications

Elix Polymers (Tarragona, Spain) has developed a range of specialty grades of acrylonitrile-styrene-butadiene (ABS) and polycarbonate (PC)/ABS to reduce the squeak that is generated when plastic parts come into contact with other plastic parts, leather, PVC foil, or other products. These undesirable noises can negatively affect the driver’s comfort and the car’s quality impression.

New low-friction materials are drop-in replacements for existing more conventional grades from Elix Polymers.

Typical critical automotive interior parts affected include door handles, seating parts, cup holders, and air vents. The newly developed grades may also be suited for other segments such as E&E, white goods, or consumer goods.

The new grades underwent stick-slip tests at several premium automotive OEMs according to the VDA230-206 standard using testing machines from Ziegler Instruments, with very positive test results: a 10-point scale is used where 10 is the highest risk level. The new Elix grades managed to
score 1 – the lowest risk level. Tests were conducted with different forces (10 N, 40 N) and speeds (1 mm/s and 4 mm/s) at several temperatures.

The new grades use Elix Polymers base polymers: standard ABS, high-heat ABS, ABS/PC or PC/ABS – and because their key properties remain the same, this does not affect existing OEM approvals of Elix grades. Furthermore, as the shrinkage of the materials stays the same, current molds can be used without further need for modifications.

According to Fabian Herter, Industry Manager Automotive at Elix Polymers, with these new grades, significant cost savings are possible: “Until now, in many instances, fabrics or grease had to be added afterwards to reduce squeak and rattle. However, this involves additional costs and manual labor – and therefore is not ideal. Now, thanks to these new Elix grades, we are able to offer a more competitive solution when compared to other resins that are currently available.”

Mr. Herter added: “This new development is the result of our close partnership with leading OEMs. Together, we identified the need to address this issue and we were able to develop tailor-made solutions. This approach is fully in line with our strategy to focus on specialty added-value materials.”

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