Automotive Weight Reduction Expo 2014 (Part 2)

Weight reduction technologies through the use of resin and carbon fiber reinforced plastics



Venue crowded with visitors
Venue crowded with visitors

 The Automotive Weight Reduction Expo 2014 was held at the Tokyo Big Sight on January 15th to 17th, 2014 as part of Automotive World 2014. In the previous report, we reported  weight reduction technologies through the use of metal parts. In this report, we summarize a weight reduction through a shift to resin.

 First, this report highlights the carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) technology that Toray Industries and Mitsubishi Rayon presented. Next, focus will be shifted to  automotive weight reduction technology through the use of resin materials that are displayed by  Sumitomo Bakelite, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation, Starlite, Ube Industries Group, and Toyobo.

Related Reports:
Automotive Weight Reduction Expo 2014 (Part 1) (Feb. 2014)
EV & HEV Drive System Technology Expo 2014 (Feb. 2014)

Automotive Weight Reduction Expo 2013
(1) 3D additive manufacturing and lightweight metal use, (2) CFRP and other plastics improve weight reduction

CFRP: Exhibition by Toray and Mitsubishi Rayon

Toray Industries

Concept EV TEEWAVE AR1 Toray exhibited the TEEWAVE AR1 concept electirc vehicle. Carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) are widely used for the vehicle body. The model features a thermoset CFRP monolithic monocoque and a CFRP impact-absorbing material, achieving a weight reduction, and excellent rigidity and collision safety. For the hood hatch and the roof, thermoplastic CFRP is used, to which high-cycle molding can be applied for about one minute.
Carbon fiber reinforced PPS with high tensile strength for injection molding Toray Industries has developed carbon fiber reinforced polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) resin that has the same tensile strength as die-cast aluminum. Injection molding of this resin is feasible. The resin is about 45% lighter than die-cast aluminum and has the property of PPS's heat resistance and chemical resistance.
Tensile strength of conventional carbon fiber reinforced PPS is low, which limits the replacement of metal materials with the conventional carbon fiber reinforced PPS. Toray's PPS resin disperses long-fiber carbon fiber in a molded product evenly and improves the interfacial adhesion between carbon fiber and PPS resin to enhance tensile strength.
Concept EV TEEWAVE AR1 AR1's CFRP monocoque body
Concept EV TEEWAVE AR1 AR1's CFRP monocoque body
CFRP trunk lid for Mercedes-Benz SL 63 A CFRP wheel
CFRP trunk lid for Mercedes-Benz SL 63 (launched in 2012) A CFRP wheel is under development. Currently under test-run.


Mitsubishi Rayon

CFRP trunk lid Mitsubishi Rayon launched the CFRP trunk lid at the end of 2013. The product is used as the trunk lid of the Nissan GT-R NISMO. A rear spoiler is mounted on the trunk lid. This gives a high down-force on the truck lid. Since high rigidity is required for the trunk lid, thermoset CFRP is used as the material. This product was jointly exhibited by Mitsubishi Rayon and Challenge Co., Ltd.
The CFRP trunk lid is 40% lighter than an aluminum trunk lid. PCM (Prepreg Compression Molding) is a molding method that uses a stamping machine, in which a molding cycle takes only eight minutes. Mitsubishi Rayon presents the future application of PCM to automotive structural members (including a floor panel), saying that a molding cycle can be shortened to five minutes.
A wheel with a composite structure with CFRP and aluminum alloy Mitsubishi Rayon and Enkei Corporation, which manufactures and markets aluminum wheels, exhibited a prototype of a wheel that combines forged aluminum wheels with CFRP support material. CFRP is bonded with glue to an aluminum wheel that is made thinner in order to reduce weight, securing strength that is compliant with safety standards for automotive wheels. Mitsubishi Rayon aims for a weight reduction and price that is welcomed in the market.
CFRP trunk lid A wheel having composite structure with CFRP
CFRP trunk lid by Mitsubishi Rayon and Challenge Co., Ltd A wheel having composite structure with CFRP and aluminum alloy by Mitsubishi Rayon and Enkei Corporation



Sumitomo Bakelite: use of phenolic resin

Phenolic resin molding material for sliding parts Phenolic resin (also called bakelite) is a thermoset resin and has high heat resistance and solvent resistance. Since its strength does not decline easily even at high temperature, phenolic resin is suitable for sliding parts that reach high temperatures during use. Phenol resin is used in automotive parts including sliding bearings and evaporator leak check module parts.
Carbon fiber reinforced phenol resin has high strength and excellent sliding resistance, but is expensive. On the other hand, graphite reinforced phenolic resin has high self lubricity and excellent sliding resistance. Although an injection molding can be applied to graphite reinforced phenolic resin, it is a flimsy material.
Bonding of thermoset resin and metal Sumitomo Bakelite has developed technology (jointly developed with MEC Co. Ltd) for bonding metal and resin without glue by applying a special surface treatment to metal. This allows the company to develop parts having both characteristics of metal (including high rigidity and electromagnetic wave shielding properties) and those of resin (including light weight, insulative properties, and heat resistance). The company aims to reduce the weight of the housing for which electromagnetic wave shielding is required.
This technology can be applied mainly to phenolic resin and metal including aluminum and stainless steel. The company says that countermeasures must be provided against curve, caused by different coefficient of linear expansion among materials, must be provided and the molding cycle must be shortened to commercialize the product.
Phenolic Backing plate Sumitomo Bakelite also exhibited a phenolic resin packing plate currently being developed for disk brake pads. This material can be molded simultaneously with friction material, which reduces labor hours. High strength can be maintained at high temperature. The company plans to commercialize it within 2010s.
Viscs coupling oil wiper Sample product of molding material composite
Viscs coupling oil wiper made of carbon-fiber reinforced phenolic resin Sample product of molding material composite between stainless steel and phenolic resin
Through surface treatment, repletion into interfacial site Phenolic Backing plate
Through surface treatment, repletion into interfacial site (bonding site) is enhanced and interfacial adhesion is excellent. In a bend test, this material is integrally sheared (right photo). Phenolic Backing plate
Phenolic resin automotive engine polymotor
Phenolic resin automotive engine "Polymotor": US-based Composite Castings developed in late 1980s for racing car engines. Glass fiber reinforced phenolic resin compound is used for housing.



Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings' resin technology

SymaLITE undercover SymaLITE is a material comprising thermoplastic resin (polypropylene, PP) and long-fiber glass fiber, to which stamp molding can be applied. SymaLITE is about 30% lighter than PP and has high rigidity and sound absorbing characteristics. It is used as an undercover for Chevrolet Captiva, and is also supplied to Audi, BMW, and Toyota. Mitsubishi Chemical is currently producing the material in Germany and Canada, and is scheduled to start production in Japan (Yokkaichi City) in the second half of 2014. This is exhibited by Quadrant Plastic Composites Japan Ltd.
GMT luggage box GMT (Glass Mat reinforced Thermoplastics) is a thermoplastic that is reinforced by long-fiber glass mat and is a sheet-like composite material. A luggage box made of this GMT is about 20% lighter than the conventional iron luggage box, and has excellent corrosion resistance and impact energy absorption capability, and can be designed more freely. In addition, with this shift to resin, multiple parts can be integrally molded, which results in a reduction in production processes. This was exhibited by Quadrant Plastic Composites Japan.
Polycarbonate resin grazing This polycarbonate resin grazing is made with a multicolor molding machine. Compared to inorganic glass, the product is 30 to 40% lighter and has three to five times the thermal insulation performance. Toyota Industries produces the product. It is used as resin material for a resin panoramic roof for the Toyota Prius α. A combination of film decorating and foaming will be possible in the future. This is exhibited by Mitsubishi Engineering-Plastics Corporation.
Non-coating interior and exterior material Mitsubishi Chemical exhibited soft polypropylene (trade name: WELNEX) as non-coating interior and exterior material. Since WELNEX has excellent mold transferability, it achieves low texture and luster and weld-less (no trace of resin flowing in a mold), which make non-coating possible. This is exhibited by Japan Polypropylene Corporation.
SymaLITE undercover GMT luggage box
SymaLITE undercover GMT luggage box
Polycarbonate resin crazing a bumper made of WELNEX
Polycarbonate resin grazing Front: a bumper made of glass fiber reinforced non-coating interior and exterior material, WELNEX. Back: Conventional bumper. The bumper in the front has more luster.



Starlite: weight reduction technology of German partner, Roechling

GMT undercover Starlite exhibited an undercover that its partner Germany-based Roechling produces using Glass fiber Mat reinforced Thermoplastics GMT (trade name: Seeberlite). This GMT undercover is capable of reducing weight by up to 50% compared to a polypropylene undercover and has high rigidity and sound absorbing characteristics. With the sticking of an embossed aluminum sheet, a heat shield performance is given and can cover the entire undercover. The GMT undercover is used in models including BMW7 Series, 5 Series, Volvo S60, and Ford Focus (European model).
Plastic muffler Starlite exhibited a prototype plastic muffler that achieves weight reduction, sound absorption, and low fuel consumption. The housing of the silencer is made of plastics to reduce weight by 30% compared to the conventional product. This product can also be designed with excellent sound absorbing characteristics and aerodynamic characteristics. A vehicle test has been under way since around 2012. STARLITE says that it will take two years to start commercial production.
Polypropylene intake manifold Starlite exhibited a polypropylene intake manifold. Compared to the conventional polyamide-6 product, this product can reduce weight by 30%, improve sound absorbing characteristics, and cut costs. The product is used in VW up! compact car.
Jectbonding  Jectbonding is a technology that molds an inlet duct for a supercharger with a bracket in a single process. This is a technology that conducts blow molding of the pipe and injection molding of the bracket, and bonding in the same mold almost at the same time. The adhesive power between the bracket and the duct is enhanced. Compared to an aluminum duct, weight and cost are reduced by 30% and 25%, respectively. The product is used in VW Tiguan.
Sealbonding Starlite has developed technology for bonding components of a plastic intake manifold in an injection mold. Plastic is poured through bonding sites to bond components. The company says that this new technology has a bonding power five times higher than that of the conventional technology.
GMT undercover Plastic muffler
GMT undercover Plastic muffler
Polypropylene intake manifold Jectbonding
Polypropylene intake manifold (VW up! compact car) Jectbonding, technology for molding of a duct with bracket
Sealbonding, technology for bonding of components in injection mold



Ube Industries Group: rotating mold system for multi-shot molding

 Ube Machinery Corporation in the Ube Industries Group exhibited molding samples for which its rotating mold technology for multi-shot molding is used. In this technology, a mold having different shapes between the front and back of the mold is used.

Cav-Change, rotating mold system for multi-shot molding

Sample of simultaneous molding with different materials Example of molding of a door panel with different resins. Ube Machinery says that this system makes possible thinning, two-color molding, and surface decorative treatment of products, and improves tactile sense.
Shifting from glass to resing in parts In products where part material is shifted from glass to resin, multi-shot molding is applied to green colored sites and transparent resin. To provide scratch resistance, a hard coating is applied. Since the specific gravity of glass is about 2.4 and that of plastic (PC) is about 1.2, 50% weight reduction is achieved by simple arithmetic. High coating costs pose a challenge. The company is considering simultaneous treatment in a mold.
A door panel is molded with different resins Back of door panel
A door panel is molded with different resins Back of door panel
Shift from glass to resin
Shift from glass to resin


Integral molding of resin and aluminum

Ube Industries exhibited a heatsink where resin (PA6) having high heat conductivity and aluminum are integrally molded as a conceptual product. The company aims to reduce the weight and labor hours through integral molding. In response to the needs of weight reduction and the efficient transfer of heat, the company completed the development of resin with high heat conductivity three to five years ago, but has not sold any product.
Integral molding  technology of resin and aluminum for heatsink Integral molding technology of resin and aluminum for heatsink



Toyobo's resin materials

Glass-fiber reinforced nylon resin GLAMIDE JF-30G GLAMIDE JF-30G is glass-fiber reinforced resin with mechanical strength that can replace metal. JF-30G has excellent fluidity and can be thinned to reduce weight. The product minimizes glass floating to provide excellent appearance and can be used for visible parts.
Next-generation extension parts VYlOPET Toyobo presents a next-generation material for extension parts for head lamps. The product has high fluidity and can be molded elaborately at a thickness of 1.5 mm. It also has surface smoothness that is capable of direct deposition. It generates less gas when melting, which facilitates the maintenance of the mold and improves its suitability for mass‐production. VYLOPET is made from unreinforced PBT or reinforced PBT/PET alloy.
Polyester elastomer PELPRENE Toyobo promotes two new grades of thermoplastic elastomer, PELPRENE. One is an ultra heat-resistant grade, which can be used up to 175°C. The other is a foam grade with a foam cell diameter of 80 to 120μm.
Door mirror stay Head lamp module
Door mirror stay where glass-fiber reinforced nylon resin, GLAMIDE is used Head lamp module exhibited by Toyobo
Various parts where polyester elastomer is used
Various parts where polyester elastomer is used



Victrex, Itochu SysTech, and Daiichijushi Industry


 Victrex Japan presents the use of engineering plastic material, VICTREX PEEK, for automotive parts. This engineering plastic material has excellent heat resistance, chemical resistance, hydrolysis resistance, and abrasion resistance. The product is used for a bearing retainer of transmissions used in the Chevrolet Volt. If complex forms are to be achieved for metal parts, multiple processes including machining are required. With this material to which injection molding can be applied, only one process is necessary, though material costs are high; improvement of productivity eventually results in reduction of total cost. The company says that it will propose the use of the product for transmission gears.
A bearing retainer of transmissions for PHEVs and a turbo-charger impleller for which VICTREX PEEK is used A bearing retainer of transmissions for PHEVs and a turbo-charger impleller for which VICTREX PEEK is used

Itochu SysTech Corporation

3D suction blow molding machine Itochu SysTech Corporation exhibited a duct for intercoolers molded with 3D suction blow molding machine of Italy-based S.T. SoffiaggioTecnica. Itochu SysTech markets the blow molding machine in Japan. The duct is used in Audi vehicles.
In the suction blow molding, parison (resin squeezed out in a tube-like form) is suctioned into a closed mold using negative pressure. When parison reaches the end of the mold, both ends of the parison are closed and it is pressed on the mold by air pressure from inside. With this method, complicated 3D molding is feasible and results in less parison swelling.
Intercooler duct molded with 3D suction blow molding machine Intercooler duct molded with 3D suction blow molding machine

Daiichijushi Industry

 Daiichijushi Industry presents a shift to resin use in rear glass. The rear glass is molded with hot pressing and is bent, and then is cut to a finished product. Instead of printing hot wires for defogging, surface treatment is applied. With the processing by LDS (Laser Direct Structuring), printing hot wires is possible, but costs are higher. The company says that the product is usable for light-duty trucks and construction machinery that do not require defogging by hot wires.
Shift to resin use in rear glass Shift to resin use in rear glass


<Automotive Industry Portal MarkLines>