1998-02-23

Evolution of Instrument Panels Made of Polypropylene 980067

Among the various materials used today for an instrument panel application, polypropylene is one of the least expensive per kilogram and therefore one of the most attractive. Typically, different polypropylene compounds may be used in different components of the IP according to the desired performance requirements. At the same time, polypropylene is one of the most difficult thermoplastics to use properly when designing an instrument panel due to weaknesses related to its semi-crystalline nature. For some vehicles, the metal reinforcement which would be needed to overcome these weaknesses would lead to a higher overall system cost compared with engineering thermoplastics.
In the last decade significant progress has been made in the development of new polypropylene compounds and processes. Additionally, progress has been made in FEA simulation which allow instrument panel designers to anticipate the behavior of the final parts, compensate for the weaknesses of polypropylene through component design and thereby optimize the instrument panel system prior to tool construction.
These material, process and performance simulation advancements will help the various OEM's to extend the use of polypropylene to some platforms or applications from which it was previously limited and will enable the overall objective of system cost reduction to be achieved.

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