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The world's first instrument panel with an injection-molded thin-wall skin comprised of an ultra-high flow thermoplastic vulcanizate (TPV) can be found in the 2013 Nissan Sentra.

May 13, 2014

2 Min Read
Dashboard skin is injection-molded in world first

The world's first instrument panel with an injection-molded thin-wall skin comprised of an ultra-high flow thermoplastic vulcanizate (TPV) can be found in the 2013 Nissan Sentra.

The system supplier, toolmaker and molder Calsonic Kansei Corporation (Saitama, Japan) molded the skin from Sunvieo A7171 TPV supplied by Asahi Kasei Chemicals (Tokyo). The grade boasts a meltflow 250g/10 minutes and realizes a 1-mm-thick skin that can accommodate deep draws and uneven undercuts, thereby yielding new design and styling options. The grade's elongation properties are key in this respect. An additional bonus is that scrap can be reused. The cycle time is 60 seconds.

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Injection-molded thin-wall skin has many advantages over traditional slush-molded types.

The injection molding process replaces traditional PVC or TPU slush molding and TPO vacuum forming processes. It also saves 25% weight compared to PVC slush molding, equivalent to 0.8 lb. per vehicle. The cost saving versus PVC slush molding is estimated at 10%.

The favorable properties of the grade reportedly result in a softer touch, and good long-term stability of appearance and gloss compared to PVC slush moldings. Further, stable air bag expansion at low temperature over the long-term is reported compared to PVC slush moldings.

Besides the 2013 Nissan Sentra, the technology has also been deployed in the 2013 Nissan Teana manufactured in China and Thailand.

The new process also does its part for the environment according to its developers. The superior heat efficiency compared to slush molding reportedly results in 58% lower CO2 emissions, while good mold release characteristics mean the amount of volatiles from mold release spray is minimized.

The part was a category winner in the 43rd Annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition 2013 of the SPE Automotive Division (Materials category).

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