3M and vehicle manufacturers around the world are working together to push the boundaries of productivity, reliability and performance. From additives that reduce vehicle weight … to ingredient technologies that stand up to harsh fuels and high temperatures … innovative materials from 3M are helping OEMs and their suppliers expand design possibilities, meet emission reduction targets and enhance consumer appeal.
Reducing Vehicle Weight and Manufacturing Ingredient Technologies and Advanced Materials for the Transportation Industry
Glass bubbles lift Corvette body panels to top SPE award.
Plastics News – November 12, 2015
The Society of Plastics Engineers' automotive division announced the category winners for its 2015 Automotive Innovation Awards. SPE honored the winners at its annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala November 11 in Livonia, Michigan.
The top prize went to General Motors Co. for its materials category entry, class A body panels made using TCA Ultra Lite composite material from Continental Structural Plastics (CSP). The toolmakers are Century Tool & Gage and Paragon Die & Engineering Co.
CSP replaced calcium carbonate with hollow glass microspheres from 3M Co. and a proprietary surface treatment to achieve 43 percent mass reduction compared to conventional SMC, and 28 percent mass reduction over mid-density grades.
Chemically treated glass microspheres allow significant weight savings in body panels for the 2016 Chevrolet Corvette.
Continental Structural Plastics Inc. has developed a sheet molding compound in which glass microspheres replace calcium carbonate filler and shave 20 pounds off the sports car's Stingra Coupe model weight. Usage of TCA Ultra Lite is now in commercial production for the 2016 model.
Proprietary sizing, special glass roving and microspheres strip 9 kilos of weight from Corvette body panels.
SMC typically contains resin, glass fiber, mineral filler and additives. One way the company reduced its product density was by replacing some percentage of its typical calcium carbonate (CACO3) filler with hollow glass microspheres (affectionately called “bubbles” in the industry). However, microspheres can crush easily during compounding or molding. "When that happened, our mechanicals would go south and our density would go up," recalls Guha. "We felt we needed both a tougher bubble and to do work on the surface of the bubbles to improve interfacial adhesion."
In the drive to achieve stringent fuel economy and emissions reduction targets, automotive and aerospace manufacturers worldwide are shedding pounds – using lightweight plastics filled with 3M™ Glass Bubbles. These density-reducing engineered additives can deliver weight reductions of 15% or more in many filled polymer systems, and up to 30% in some sheet or bulk molding (SMC/BMC) compounds … all while maintaining a desirable balance of physical properties, including the ability to deliver Class A paintable surfaces.
Now, these high-strength additives give even more ways to improve processing and boost productivity and profits. 3M glass bubbles improve manufacturing productivity with faster cycle times … reduce shrinkage, warpage and scrap rates, and even achieve weight reduction targets without altering part design.
Do more to reduce part weight. Do more to improve productivity. Do more to meet unique customer needs and solve your customer problems. Do more to reduce reject parts. Do more to contibute to sustainability.