By Liz White, ERJ staff
Troy, Michigan-Delphi Corp. has created a new skin for instrument panels, consoles and other vehicle interior surfaces made of a thermoplastic elastomer, and claims the result is a "luxurious look and feel at a substantially lower cost than traditional sprayed urethane technology."
The US-based automotive supply group said it used "breakthrough design and process technology, for its slush cast thermoplastic polyolefin skin. This technology-the newest addition to Delphi's interior skin portfolio-is "the best method for vehicles with complex styling features," the group said.
Another benefit, for interior skins lies in its suitability for use in airbag doors, where the TPO's pliability "prevents cracking and splintering in the skin when an airbag deploys in cold weather." This, together with its ability to produce seamless tear seams, means the TPO is compatible with Delphi's hidden airbag door.
Also, the group said, compared to traditional PVC skins, TPO offers the benefits of recyclability and colourability, eliminating the need for painting. technology.
"This advancement in skin technology will have a significant impact on the future of automotive interiors," said Lon Offenbacher, business line executive, cockpits and interior systems and integrated closure systems, Delphi Thermal & Interior. "This high value innovation offers our customers, quite simply, superior appearance and performance at less cost than alternatives."
According to a Delphi statement, in 1997, the group was the first automotive interior supplier to introduce extruded-sheet forms of TPO for use in thermoforming instrument panel skins. Now, Delphi has developed a powdered form of TPO that can be used in a slush-moulding process.
James Giardino, director of engineering, Delphi Thermal & Interior, said that to the company's knowledge, "there is only one other slush cast TPO product on the market today and it is significantly higher in cost and requires painting."