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SABIC recently announced a new technology to produce lightweight, cost-effective and recyclable vehicle panels using its UDMAX tape.
SABIC recently announced a new technology to produce lightweight, cost-effective and recyclable vehicle panels using its UDMAX tape.

SABIC announced a new technology for producing lightweight, cost-effective and recyclable vehicle panels using its UDMAX tape, a unidirectional, fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composite, at JEC World 2019 in Paris.

This innovative technology, which is designed to replace traditional panels made of metal and thermoset materials for interior and exterior automotive applications, will soon be commercialized in the bulkhead of a light commercial vehicle (LCV) produced in large scale for the global automotive market.

The bulkhead was developed through an international collaboration among SABIC; RLE International, an engineering services provider headquartered in the United Kingdom; AMA Composites, an Italian toolmaker; and Setex Textil GmbH, a weaver based in Germany. SABIC showcased a sample model of the composite bulkhead at JEC World 2019.

Vehicle panels made with UDMAX tape combine strength and impact resistance with light weight, which can result in mass reduction of interior panels of up to 35% in comparison to metal parts. This mass saving can be achieved without sacrificing the impact performance of the part, which is essential to protect occupants against injuries caused by shifting cargo.

According to RLE International, the bulkhead complies with ISO 27956, the standard for securing cargo in delivery LCVs. The build-up of the process and the tensile strength of the UDMAX are the main factors in optimizing the impact resistance of the bulkhead.

In case of exterior panels, the composite material can help reduce mass up to 50%. They are produced using a highly efficient, one-shot process of lamination and low-pressure molding.

In addition, compared to metallic or injection molded part of a conventional, multi-piece bulkhead, the new method – designed, developed and engineered by RLE International – can reduce tool costs by up to 80% compared to injection molding tools. This saving is due to the ability to replace an expensive, high-pressure tool with a lower-cost, low-pressure tool. Overall, the supplied cost of the LCV’s bulkhead can be 10% lower than the conventional metallic bulkhead that it replaces.

“Our UDMAX tapes offer the automotive industry a powerful solution to the ongoing challenges of reducing weight, lowering costs and improving sustainability,” said Hans Warmerdam, CEO and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, SABIC FRT – a SABIC affiliate. “We’re confident that the light commercial vehicle’s bulkhead is the first of many structural applications where our innovative materials, combined with this novel processing approach, can help solve our customers’ challenges of achieving lighter weight without compromising safety, durability and fuel or energy use.”

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