Houston, Texas – Kraton Corp. has secured a first commercial, automotive application for its ‘injection molded soft-skin’ (IMSS) technology, the company announced 1 Feb.
Released by SAIC-GM in China last November, the 2021 Buick GL6 incorporates an instrument panel skin manufactured using IMSS technology, according to the thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) supplier.
Employing ultra-high flow TPEs, based on hydrogenated styrenic block copolymers (HSBCs), IMSS is designed to offer an alternative to PVC, which is conventionally used in this application.
Unlike slush-moulded PVC versions, HSBC-based soft skins allow injection moulding of large, thin-walled soft skin parts, such as instrument panel skins, according to Kraton.
The elastomers, it added, “provide lower odour, fogging, VOCs, better aging, subsequently improved safety performance, and lower specific gravity.”
"It's a growing trend in the auto industry to introduce soft surfaces replacing hard plastic interiors,” said Bas Hennissen, Kraton's commercial VP of the Specialties business:
IMSS technology, he claims, offers considerable cost and performance advantages over the existing soft skin technologies, with a better sustainability profile.
With mass-production for the GL6 project, Hennissen concluded: “we feel there will be more car models manufactured with IMSS technology."
Kraton’s IMSS technology featured among the first Top 10 entries in ERJ’s Elastomer for Sustainability rankings.