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Injection Moulding Asia Automotive

New material innovations to spur lighter cars Fuel economy is the cornerstone of the current

in automobiles runs at 700,000 tonnes, and this is likely to climb to 900,000 tonnes by 2020, according to IHS Chemical. It also adds that demand for carbon fibre, which is yet to expand adoption in the mainstream automotive industry, is anticipated to reach nearly 10,000 tonnes by 2030. Current lightweight design techniques have parts, like bumpers, seats, dashboards, fuel systems, body panels, electrical components, interiors and others, made of plastics. Polypropylene (PP) accounts for the largest share of the market share. It is followed by polyurethanes (PUs) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), according to research firm Persistence Market Research.

trend for lightweight cars, and emerging material technologies, such as cellulose nanofibres, ligninbased resins, lightweight composites and heat

dissipating polymers, are enabling this trend, says Angelica Buan in this report.

T

Light weighting with low-cost composites Meanwhile, high performance composite materials promise improved performance at an even lower weight, as seen in a collaboration between India’s National Institute of Technology-Karnataka (NIT-K) and the US’s New York University that has resulted in the innovation of lightweight composites for automotive parts.

he plexiglas body of Ford’s Pontiac in the 1940s has turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy more than 70 years later. Today, plastics are becoming an integral component of car building and support a global plastics market that will hit the US$54 billion mark by 2022, citing a report by Global Market Insights. Car makers are required to address issues, such as fuel efficiency, as a matter of regulation. At the same time, they have to meet criteria for driving performance and affordability. An important step to achieving fuel economy is to pare down the weight with plastics. For the industry, no reduction is too small. Plastics typically contribute only about 10% reduction to the weight of the vehicle, and this can improve its fuel efficiency by as much as 8%. Hence cars, especially ones fitted with innovative features and systems made partly or entirely of plastics, account for the increasing demand for plastics. Texas-headquartered consultancy IHS Chemical predicts that by 2025, plastic will represent a quarter of an average car. The current rate of utilisation for polymers

The composites studied by NIT-K and NYU researchers use hollow microspheres like fly ash cenospheres and glass microballoons in HDPE

The study, which reveals that plastics potentially reduce weight by as much as 36% but still lend better mechanical properties, involved an industry partner for industrial-scale manufacturing methods for producing composite specimens. The composites studied by this team use hollow microspheres like fly ash cenospheres and glass microballoons in high density polyethylene (HDPE). “Hollow microsphere fillers can reduce the weight of the component, make them cheaper and reduce carbon footprint,” Dr Mrityunjay Doddamani of NIT-K said. Doddamani, who led the research, said that the outcome will also debunk the perception that using composites is expensive. “Our effort has specifically shown that low

The body of Ford’s Pontiac showcased in the 1940s was made of plexiglass

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PRA magazine September 2017 Digital Edition  
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