Kraton Polymers and SO.F.TER. have developed a styrenic block copolymer (SBC) -based alternative to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) for slush molded interior soft skins for automotive. In addition to answering environmental concerns around vinyl and TPUs, the companies say they were responding to calls from the automotive industry for lighter-weight, higher-performance, and lower-cost skin materials destined for instrument and door panels, airbags, and consoles.
Kraton and SO.F.TER. say the SBC skins have improved low-temperature performance, fogging, and recyclability, and can be run on existing slush molding equipment with standard processing conditions. The fact that lower temperatures and reduced cycle times are required provides additional manufacturing cost savings. The companies says the new product is 30%-40% lighter, with better aging properties and improved soft touch.
In 2008, Tier One supplier Inteva Products introduced the first TPO/TPE slush-molded IP manufactured in North America for General Motors and the Saab 9-7X SUV. Inteva's Tom Ellis said the patented technology, which has been licensed to compounder A. Schulman, can be molded on the same equipment as the vinyl and urethane it replaces, with equivalent or greater performance, 20% lower weight, and without VOC emissions or fogging.
To see, touch, and learn more about the new technology, K Show attendees can visit both companies in Düsseldorf, with Kraton Polymers in Hall 6, Booth C80, and SO.F.TER. in Hall 6, Booth A58.