SABIC, a global leader in the chemical industry, today shared that it has collaborated with Dongfeng Motors, one of the largest truck manufacturers in China, on the development of a novel plastic composite hybrid solution to produce a strong lightweight truck-mounted toolbox. The application is made with a combination of SABIC’s STAMAX™ resin, a long glass fiber polypropylene (PP), and continuous glass fiber composite laminate inserts via a single overmolding process. The finished part is lighter by up to 30 percent compared to a similarly designed part in steel, and use of the solution allows Dongfeng to benefit from resulting production efficiencies.
“This plastic composite solution is a great example of how SABIC helps automotive customers expand design options and simplify production so they can achieve their goals,” said Abdullah Al-Otaibi, general manager, ETP & Market Solutions, SABIC. “By combining two different materials, our solution improves both performance and processability. Now that this composite technology is validated and in mass production with Dongfeng, we see many other automotive applications that could benefit, and we are excited to help manufacturers seize those opportunities.”
In addition to truck toolboxes, automotive applications for this hybrid solution with STAMAX resin can potentially include tailgates, seating, front-end modules and battery housings for electric vehicles.
Use of this plastic composite solution can enable manufacturers to not only reduce weight, but also lower carbon emissions, control costs through production efficiencies, and achieve higher performance.
DESIGN AND PERFORMANCE OPTIMIZATION
SABIC’s hybrid solution combines STAMAX resin with thermoformed composite inserts made of unidirectional (UD) glass fiber-reinforced PP tape from China-based Qiyi Tech, a company dedicated to the development and production of continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic composite materials.
The laminate inserts are pre-heated before being placed in the tool and overmolded with STAMAX resin in a single operation. The inserts add stiffness and strength to critical areas of the part, enabling the use of thin-wall geometries that can reduce weight.
Compared to steel, the conventional material for truck toolbox applications, SABIC’s plastic composite hybrid solution expands design options, enables the consolidation of parts, and avoids secondary operations that can add costs and prevent high-volume production.
The plastic composite solution reduces the weight of the toolbox by approximately 30 percent (6 to 4 kg) without sacrificing the stiffness, toughness, or strength required for this utility application.
STAMAX resins feature 10-25 percent lower density than some competitive materials for weight-out. Their properties include high stiffness and impact strength, excellent structural performance, and easy flow for thin walls.