Smart® fortwo has become the first commercialised car to have full body panels manufactured from polypropylene (PP). Borealis, a leading provider of innovative, value creating plastics solutions, has developed Daplen™ ED230HP, a thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) compound, for this pioneering development to meet the cost-effective production targets and aesthetic, safety and environmental requirements of the latest Smart fortwo vehicle.
New Daplen ED230HP replaces polycarbonate polybutylene terephtalate (PCPBT), which is traditionally specified for exterior body panels, tailgates and hoods. To ensure a smooth transition to the new material, Borealis worked closely with Smart and their Tier One supplier Plastal to provide engineering and simulation support in addition to the development of the material. Smart's selection of Daplen ED230HP satisfies its request for a faster production process. The new solution is an in-mass coloured compound, meaning colours are blended into the compound to provide ready moulded aesthetic parts. As a result, post-assembly painting steps are reduced with only a painted clear coat layer needed. In addition, a smooth paint finish can be more easily achieved.
Vehicle owners benefit from the materials long-term resistance to UV exposure and outstanding paint adhesion. This helps to ensure quality aesthetics over the long term. In addition, when car repair is required, owners benefit from lower painting costs.
As a lightweight material used in all body panels, Daplen ED230HP provides a significant reduction in overall vehicle weight with 15%. For the end-user, this reduces fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions adding to the environmental friendliness of the car. Furthermore, the material is fully recyclable in line with European legislation.
Daplen ED230HP raises the safety performance of the latest Smart fortwo series. Its superior low thermal expansion creates zero gap tolerance between parts. This, in combination with an excellent impact/stiffness ratio for the injection moulded panels, leads to improved driver safety.
"Smart's pioneering approach to using PP for full body panels in its fortwo series is a major step forward for the automotive industry and its suppliers," Paul Turner, Vice President of Automotive and Appliances at Borealis, comments. "Daplen ED230HP has helped Smart tighten up its production process while raising the environmental, aesthetic and safety performance of its vehicle. Borealis played a fundamental role in this development, and we are looking forward to seeing this advanced solution take-off within the industry.