Advancements in the field of polyolefin resins have enabled new classes of thermoplastic bead foam products to be created which provide enhanced physical properties. These new products are capable of improved performance due to the advancements that have been made in the area of polyolefin resin catalyst systems, specifically those employing the new Metallocene catalyst method for production.
With this new technology, Expanded Polyolefin bead foams such as Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) are making their way into new automotive applications, that just a few years ago were not possible. These advances have made it possible to comply with the stringent design, testing, and qualification requirements that headliner systems must meet.
These new polyolefin bead foam materials will allow for part integration and consolidation by combining the performance requirements of a headliner, including structural support, rigidity, sag, wiring harness routings, fasteners, aesthetics, and dimensional tolerances, with the safety and head impact energy management requirements of the system. All of these features can be combined into a single piece molded system.
This paper will describe these recent material advancements and how they allow for improved properties for a headliner system. This paper will also outline the benefits of part consolidation and the methodologies used to accomplish this.
This paper will also compare these material advancements to those currently being used in traditional headliner systems, and demonstrate how improvements in performance, system integration, and cost can be realized. Compliance to existing and new environmental substance regulations, restrictions and recycleability are also addressed.