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New color catalogue for Automotive application. (Photo: Clariant)
New color catalogue for Automotive application. (Photo: Clariant)

Collaboration between Clariant Masterbatches, polymer producer ExxonMobil, and Plastivaloire Group, a specialist in automobile interior design, has produced a huge new family of colors that can be expected to change the look of car interiors dramatically in the next few years.

The colors are being introduced during a special technical presentation on the ExxonMobil stand at K 2019.

Most interior car parts are currently made from durable, safe and recyclable polypropylene because of its high impact strength and easy processability. Up to now the color choice has been limited to traditional dark/black and neutral colors. 

“Without the distraction of driving, passengers will give more attention to interior aesthetics and look to express their own style and individuality by personalizing their vehicle. As a result, vehicle interiors are expected to fundamentally change in the coming years, as consumers will no longer need to focus on driving,” said Bhaskar Venkatraman, ExxonMobil vice president, Polypropylene, Vistamaxx and Adhesion.   

Recognizing an opportunity to meet evolving automotive market needs, the collaboration between ExxonMobil, Clariant and PVL was established with the aim of providing designers with a more exciting color spectrum for vehicle interiors combined with the proven performance of polypropylene. 

ExxonMobil is developing new lightweight Exxtral performance polyolefin grades that can easily be colored using masterbatches at the press. Collaboration with Clariant, a leader in additives and color masterbatches for plastics, and PVL, a renowned part manufacturer and specialist in decoration and design, led to the creation of the new color case. 

The color case displays 23 vivid plaques of different vibrant colors, inspiring automotive designers and customers to create infinite possibilities to enhance interior aesthetics to meet consumer needs. 

With a 10% lower density than a commercial PP compound used for door panels, the “Exxtral BMU046x concept” grade can reduce part weight to help improve fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions. It can also maintain impact resistance at low temperatures and improve significantly the scratch resistance, a key element for durability, in addition to UV resistance and non-tackiness.

Thinner parts are also possible with more than double the melt flow rate (MFR) and an almost 50% increase in flexural modulus compared to a commercial neat door panel grade, while delivering improved odor performance. 

Additionally, thanks to its high MFR and low filler content, it can easily be injected and colored at the press to offer high-quality aesthetics for strong consumer appeal. 

The vibrant color palette and masterbatch approach developed by Clariant allows production flexibility. Transitioning from one natural color PP resin to many different colors is easy. One large volume of a natural grade and small stocks of color concentrates are required to produce parts in many different colors.

The new Exxtral grades are simple to use on most injection molding machines with a weight feeder. Color diffusion is extremely good with 2-4% masterbatch. Using the masterbatch approach allows unlimited creativity for automotive designers with a spectrum of color options and opportunities for special effects like metallic or glitter colors. 

Plastivaloire Group has worked on new harmony panels with vibrant custom colors to deliver an exciting polypropylene spectrum for car interiors. Its design department developed a warm color spectrum inspired by natural materials like leather, copper, cork or wood, and from architecture.

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