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Keywords of this article:  automotive 
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Current high-end LED headlamps weigh close to 6kg with up to 200 components.
Current high-end LED headlamps weigh close to 6kg with up to 200 components.
Photo: 12

SABIC is introducing new LEXAN polycarbonate (PC) resins for LED automotive lighting parts, which has become increasingly complex and heavy.

Current high-end LED headlamps weigh close to 6kg with up to 200 components, due to the additional functionality they incorporate. Automakers are also striving to create highly distinctive lighting parts to help differentiate and increase the appeal of their vehicles.

The new LEXAN reins address market needs to produce complex headlamp bezels with enhanced styling, but at a lighter weight and at a lower overall system cost, according to SABIC.

"These new offerings are examples of how we listen to our automotive lighting customers, stay in touch with their emerging needs, and propose materials they can consider to meet the challenges in front of them," said Scott Fallon, Global Leader of SABIC's Automotive business.

LEXAN HF4010SR resin is one of the new offerings, which makes possible complex headlight bezels with enhanced aesthetics.

When designing injection molded parts, a low draft angle is important because it enables greater styling freedom as well as a larger optical surface. However, the lower this angle, the more problems arise with parts sticking in the mold, creating scuff marks and potentially even resulting in a part with cosmetic defects.

LEXAN HF4010SR resin enables processors to target draft angles between 0.5° and 1.0° lower than the recommended draft angle for PC tools (typically between 3-5°), providing new design freedom to produce shapes with greater complexity, and integrate more features and functionality into each individual component.

According to the company, bezels that are injection molded in LEXAN HF4010SR can be directly metallized (no need for priming) and gloss and reflectivity performance under high temperature environments are both very good.

In addition, the production of headlamps with fewer bezels can be possible, which could then potentially lead to important weight and cost reductions. As said, potential cost savings up to US$2 per vehicle can be achieved by avoiding the use of complex tools, potentially enabling faster molding, part integration and weight-out.

The material also has a unique wide processing window and high flow. Parts perform in environments requiring a maximum constant use temperature of up to 130°C.

LEDs are relatively cold light sources, but LED headlamps can still generate considerable amounts of heat. SABIC has therefore added new grades to its existing LEXAN high flow XHT (extra high temperature) portfolio: LEXAN XHT1171, XHT2171 and XHT3171.

These grades provide particularly high flow for high temperature PC resins – supporting high quality parts production and can be considered as a drop-in alternative to standard PC.

A recent molding study carried out by SABIC indicated that a bezel molded in LEXAN XHT2171, for example, could weigh 37% less than a bezel in a rival polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) material, thanks to possible reductions in wall thickness and the lower density.

The resin can potentially enable cost savings of up to 40% per bezel, by avoiding the use of complex tools, potentially enabling faster molding and part integration as well as reducing weight, said the company.

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