The benefits of using plastic systems to solve engineering and performance challenges in modular automotive roof systems were highlighted by a Bayer MaterialScience LLC (BMS) engineer at the Above-the-Belt Line Modules and Systems 2006 Conference on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2006, at the Sheraton Detroit Novi Hotel. BMS was a sponsor and an exhibitor at the conference, hosted annually by the ITB Group, Ltd. as a forum for addressing issues facing automotive above-the-belt modules and systems, including polycarbonate glazing, roof modules and systems, rollover protection, window modules and sealing systems.
Mark Matsco, director, Applications Engineering/Business Development, BMS LLC, presented Plastic-Based Solutions for Low Weight Modular Roof Systems during a morning session on “Roof Systems.” A detailed discussion about key engineering issues — including shape, flexibility, stiffness, vibration, thermal expansion, performance testing, among others — comprised a significant portion of the presentation.
According to Matsco, automotive engineers increasingly are turning to polymeric materials for roof systems as they strive to attain lower weight and increased design flexibility while at the same time consolidating parts and reducing manufacturing steps. “Polymers such as polycarbonates and polyurethanes are natural fits for the combination of properties — including structural rigidity, free formability and transparency — that are desirable for various key components of modular systems,” explained Matsco. “As OEMs work with smaller and smaller platforms, these materials can offer a wealth of benefits, particularly in the ‘non-traditional’ roof configurations that consumers demand.”
Suppliers are being challenged to offer designs that use lightweight materials and also integrate or eliminate components while maintaining or improving overall structural performance and dimensional stability. By utilizing transparent thermoplastics in side and rear windows and roof systems, for example, manufacturers can achieve complex shapes, customized designs and part integration while reducing weight by approximately 40 percent. This weight savings lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity, offering a potential advantage in rollover situations. Furthermore, the strength of materials like Makrolon® polycarbonate for automotive glazing could add a measure of safety and security in accidents and “smash-n-grab” incidents.
Matsco also noted a number of benefits realized by using top-loaded, integrated roof modules featuring a structural carrier made from Bayer’s Baydur® (LFT) long fiber technology process. Such modules provide extensive interchangeability as well as customized performance, content and cost reduction.
“These modules have been designed by Bayer specifically to address the concerns of automakers and suppliers. This is being achieved by eliminating or integrating components, eliminating post painting, increasing vehicle rigidity, and reducing or repositioning weight,” he added.
From a broader perspective, Matsco emphasized that BMS offers solutions for a wide range of interior and exterior automotive applications. “With a proven track record in the industry, our automotive customers can feel confident leveraging the wide range of advanced products and technologies — from polyurethanes and polycarbonates, to thermoplastic polyurethanes and coatings, adhesives and sealants — offered by Bayer MaterialScience,” he said.
For more information on this conference as well as upcoming events and conferences in 2007, visit The ITB Group, Ltd. at www.itbgroup.com/conferences.htm. The ITB Group, Ltd. is dedicated to serving participants in the global automotive market.
For more information about Bayer MaterialScience’s comprehensive offerings for the automotive industry, call 1-412-777-2500 or visit www.BayerMaterialScienceNAFTA.com
Filed Under: Materials • advanced