Bayer MaterialScience has recently purchased the thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) related intellectual property rights from Collins & Aikman (C&A). thus extending its portfolio for TPU molded skins used in instrument panels in the vehicle interior.
The intellectual property rights acquired comprise different TPU formulations and patents and the expertise that goes with it. One of the critical factors affecting the decision to buy is the thermoplastic "size-reduction technologies" developed by C&A. These "micro-" and "mini-beading" methods lend powder particles a specific shape and a size distribution that enables superior flow in the mold during the melting process. TPU grades produced in this way are ideal for slush molding (sintering), for which Bayer MaterialScience already holds a wide range of patents. This method is used to mass-produce molded skins for instrument panels. The uniform size of the powder particles enables components to be produced in the quality required by the automotive industry when the design includes deep undercuts, sharp radii, surface logos and/or a deep grain. By acquiring C&A's know-how, the company said it can now provide a material technology that is deployed in a series of OEM applications for molded skins in car instrument panels.