Throughout its development, plastic has been used by the automotive industry, and it appears that this trend will only grow because the material is an excellent substitute for metals. That is, it is strong, lighter in weight, accommodates a diverse range of designs, and can even enhance the efficiency of vehicles. As such, it is no surprise that plastic is playing such an integral role as a key component in interior and exterior auto parts.
Current trends in the automotive industry
Automotive manufacturers are now seeking ways to improve fuel efficiency. One way they can accomplish this is by using plastic materials that allow them to create auto parts with thinner walls and lighter weight without compromising the strength, thus reducing the total weight of the vehicle, which will not only benefit vehicle owners in terms of fuel economy but also lead to greater eco-friendliness thanks to reduced CO2 emissions.
This need of automakers was what Grand Siam Composite Public Company Limited (GSC), a manufacturer polypropylene compounds for the automotive industry, had to analyze and translate into properties of the desired plastic material and then formulate of appropriate compounding to derive polypropylene compounds that best aligned with functional requirements. That led to the close collaboration between GSC and Chemicals Business, SCG, to develop SCGTM PP P1085J for the manufacturing of thin wall and lightweight exterior auto parts.
GSC started the process by specifying the desired properties of plastic auto parts, which included strength, high impact resistance, and high stiffness as required by vehicle safety standards. Added to the list was a high melt flow rate, which would allow auto parts to be manufactured to have thinner walls. These specifications were then sent to SCG, which was tasked with inventing a new grade of polypropylene resin with all of these qualities.
Special-grade plastic resin: A product of collaboration
The much greater melt flow rate required to enable wall thickness reduction and the manufacturing of larger plastic products presented a formidable challenge for SCG’s research team as they had to also control and maintain the other properties of the resin.
To develop SCGTM PP P1085J, it was necessary to delve into the resin manufacturing process in detail. To this end, SCG collaborated with an oversea partner with expertise on resin production technology, which played a vital role in the development of prototype resins as it could precisely control the manufacturing conditions to yield properties as desired by automakers. This technology also helped shorten the time it took to develop this resin.
The result is a plastic resin that is not only easier to process but can also reduce wall thickness in a product by as much as 0.5 mm. and cut down the weight of an auto part by 10% compared to the same previous model, thus decreasing energy consumption in production. Furthermore, the innovative resin helps lessen gate string defects and improves the overall quality of the product, which in turn reduces waste and CO2 emissions during production.
In addition, through the lens of sustainability and circular economy, the newly developed material also promotes resource efficiency as less material is required to manufacture thinner products that maintain the same level of strength.
From determination to the development of a new grade of resin
Both organizations take pride in having developed an innovation for the automotive industry as the resulting SCGTM PP P1085J not only meets all the requirements of automaker with regard to the manufacturing process but also perfectly serves the needs of vehicle owners seeking to save energy and contribute to environmental conservation.
This success would not have been possible without the close and active collaboration between GSC and Chemicals Business, SCG, whose mutual trust and shared goal eventually led to an exchange of knowledge and expertise, as well as a network of tech partner that contributed to the collaborative spirit of the venture and worked towards the same goal of delivering the best product to end-users. The development of SCGTM PP P1085J has thus been a learning experience for both organizations that has enabled them to transcend existing limitations and a step towards more challenging plastic development collaborations in the future.
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