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Ultra-lightweight SMC solution for auto sector

Continental Structural Plastics (CSP; Auburn Hills, MI) has introduced Tough Class A (TCA) Ultra Lite, a 1.2 specific gravity, 36.8% fiber reinforced polyester-based sheet molding compound (SMC) formulation that reportedly provides engineers the ability to design with a lower specific gravity material without sacrificing mechanical properties, surface qualities and adhesion requirements.  This material has already approved by major automotive OEMs and is programmed for a production vehicle beginning in January 2015.

PlasticsToday Staff

September 19, 2014

2 Min Read
Ultra-lightweight SMC solution for auto sector

Continental Structural Plastics (CSP; Auburn Hills, MI) has introduced Tough Class A (TCA) Ultra Lite, a 1.2 specific gravity, 36.8% fiber reinforced polyester-based sheet molding compound (SMC) formulation that reportedly provides engineers the ability to design with a lower specific gravity material without sacrificing mechanical properties, surface qualities and adhesion requirements.  This material has already approved by major automotive OEMs and is programmed for a production vehicle beginning in January 2015.

Potential applications for the ultra-lightweight SMC include roof bows, hatches, doors, deck lids, fenders and tonneau covers.

Specifically, Ultra Lite technology uses treated glass bubbles to replace some of the CaCO3, allowing the resin to adhere to the matrix and increase the interfacial strength between the bubble and the resin. This is a patented treatment technology that results in a more robust resin mix that makes molded parts more resistant to handling damage, and prevents the micro-cracks that cause paint pops, pits and blistering. The treated bubbles also help with paint adhesion and bonding characteristics.  When combined with CSP's patented vacuum and bonding manufacturing processes, the result is a material with a premium Class A finish with paint and gloss qualities comparable to metals, including aluminum.

Depending on the body component being developed, design studies have shown that CSP Ultra Lite offers a weight savings of up to 21 percent over the company's mid-density TCA Lite(1.6 SPg), and 35 percent over its industry-proven standard TCA material (1.9 SPg).

"We have developed a patented technology that enables us to achieve superior weight savings without experiencing any degradation of mechanical properties," explains CSP Chairman and CEO Frank Macher. "TCA Ultra Lite is an affordable alternative to aluminum, and offers engineers all of the advantages that come with using SMC instead of metal in body design. The fact that we are seeing no degradation of mechanical properties means lighter parts do not have to be made thicker, or incorporate structural reinforcements, to maintain the desired performance qualities."

CSP manufactures in excess of 25,000 tonnes of SMC annually.

TCA Ultra Lite at-a-glance

Property*

TCA Ultra Lite

TCA Lite

Standard TCA

Specific gravity

1.2

1.6

1.9

CLTE (E-6/°C)

16.5

15.4

16.1

Impact strength

(ft. lb./inch unnotched)

18

20

20

Flexural strength (MPa)

170

166

172

Flexural modulus (GPa)

7.8

8.3

9.3

Tensile strength (MPa)

77

70

74

Tensile modulus (GPa)

8.8

9.0

9.5

Poisson's ratio

0.30

0.35

0.32

*All values represent the typical average of a molded panel.

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