1998-02-01

Attributes of Nonwovens in the Headliner Molding Process 980942

No longer are North American automotive OEMs designing vehicles for their own domestic market. Today's automotive engineer must design and deliver world class quality to a global customer with unprecedented expectations, unlimited choices and little brand loyalty. In automotive interiors, there are distinctions between vehicles designed in North America and their engineered counter-parts in Japan and Europe. One area worthy of examination is the selection of nonwoven automotive interior headliner fabrics.Japanese and European automotive OEM's have recognized nonwovens for their reduced cost, light weight, superior fade resistance and ability to be recycled. Today, nonwoven automotive interior headliner fabrics command over 60% of the Japanese and 50% of the European automotive markets, with less than 5% in North America.Due to limited Tier 1 supplier (molder) experience in North America, this paper will discuss the advantages of nonwovens from the perspective of experienced automotive headliner suppliers. These Japanese and North American molders supply both tricot knit/foam and nonwoven headliner fabric to automotive OEM's. In the global race to improve quality and increase productivity, this paper contends that nonwovens prevail over conventional tricot knit/foam headliner fabrics in a variety of processes.

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