Automotive applications for StyLight
The development and launch of StyLight* is mostly driven by the growing demand of light weight solution in the automotive industry to contribute to fuel efficiency. So far, the applications of composite thermoplastics in automotive have been focusing on the substitution of heavy structural parts typically made of steel but without any particular aesthetical value. INEOS Styrolution is convinced that there is more potential for thermoplastic composites to reduce weight in a whole new range of applications with partially visible surface.
Fig. 1: StyLight* demonstrator with several surface decorations
INEOS Styrolution partners with KTM to develop innovative design concepts
Price remains one of the main obstacles slowing down the penetration of thermoplastic composites in the industry. The high price of the semi-finished sheet, inherent to its manufacturing and raw material cost, added to the significant upfront investment required by the part supplier to develop expertise and to acquire new tooling and handling equipment, making this innovation affordable only to a relatively niche market. One of the solutions to overcome this material price obstacle is to develop new design concept to reduce total system costs. To that end, the integration of structural and aesthetic functions would take advantage of StyLight* properties. For this purpose INEOS Styrolution partners with KTM Technologies, a creative engineering office, to develop and propose innovative design concepts for a selected number of applications.
Selected applications with high integration potential
These selected automotive applications are offering the highest integration potential from INEOS Styrolution’s and KTM’s perspective:
Automotive door module: Typically a door module comprises three functions:
- an externally visible surface, typically a sheet of painted metal,
- a non-visible semi-structural part, typically supporting all electronic and mechatronics of the door module and insulating the cockpit from the water, and
- an interior visible surface. Here INEOS Styrolution is developing a concept to integrate the non-visible semi-structural function with the interior visible surface.
Automotive central console: This application also offers a directly visible surface, supports electronic equipment and provides local structural stiffness. Moreover, the space available inside a console is critical. Here again, a thin wall providing structural stiffness and a high surface quality offers potential for the integration of different components. This results in a total system cost reduction.
Fig. 2: Central consoles, today’s state of the art solution and StyLight* based concepts
Automotive lift gate: There are many lift gate designs available depending on vehicle shape and design. Different composite solutions from long glass fibre reinforced PP to SMC have been used for quite some time. Until now the interior visible surface covers the structural frame. Here StyLight* offers a potential integration solution.
Body panel for trucks or tractors: A significant weight reduction is possible with the replacement of thick SMC panels currently being used in this field. But this application is demanding: Dimensional stability, class A surface quality, wind resistance, resistance to powerful vibrations are among the long list of specifications. Some of these panels also integrate functions like front light or brackets. Here, StyLight* may again have a strong value proposition to reduce weight while offering a dimensional stability and high surface quality.
For each of these different applications, alternative design solutions have been developed, enhancing function integration, reducing the overall number of parts, striving for cost and weight reductions. These concepts are available to INEOS Styrolution customers and inspire engineers and designers to think “out of the box”.
* Trade Mark application pending