Demands of the automotive industry for lighter-weight, higher-performance, lower-cost, and more environmentally-sustainable solutions, have been met with the development of a new SBC-based alternative for slush molded interior soft skins. Slush molding is a specialized processing operation traditionally designed for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) based compounds to produce the interior surface of automobiles such as instrument panel skins, door panels, airbags and consoles. The new material has been developed by Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc. and SO.F.TER. SPA, compounder specialized in the production of tailor-made thermoplastic elastomers and engineering solutions. This development provides a major technology and performance leap for the automotive industry. Manufacturers can achieve significant improvements in low-temperature performance, fogging, and recyclability while still using existing slush molding equipment and standard processing conditions. An additional benefit is lowered manufacturing costs due to reduced service temperatures and decreased processing time.
"Our new product provides a 30 to 40% reduction in material weight, better aging properties, and improved soft touch compared to existing materials. These benefits help automotive manufacturers reduce the weight of vehicle components, while still enhancing aesthetics and performance," Michael Oberkirch, Vice President, Advanced Materials at Kraton Polymers.