Environmentally Conscious Manufacturing of TPO Instrument Panel Skins
Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) instrument panel skins are in demand in Europe and Asia as a solution to final product disposition environmental concerns. In North America TPO is valued for its durability characteristics (particularly heat and UV aging) and capability for deployment of seamless airbags at cold temperatures. Desiring to have an environmentally “green” system to create the “green” product, Delphi designed a manufacturing process with in-plant closed loop recycling of 100% offal directly back into the skin and the use of waterbased coating system for combating concerns with solvents. Delphi's development of recyclable TPO skin for instrument panels was introduced on 1997 production of Mercedes-Benz M-class. The paper will describe how the systems approach was used in overcoming the challenges involved in closed loop recycling of engineered offal during sheet manufacturing and thermoforming processes and the implementation of waterbased primer and topcoat systems.