Grupo Antolin develops second generation of green foams for headliners

Jun 17, 2020   Tier Suppliers

A plant-based polyurethane foam system integrated into headliner substrates is Grupo Antolin's response to the growing demand to minimise the environmental impact of cars and reduce the carbon footprint. In this second generation, the company has achieved a product with the same properties as conventional formulations, and even improved in some respects, with eco-friendly raw materials.

As a leader in the overhead function, Grupo Antolin constantly invests in the development and production of environmentally friendly components that contribute to the transformation of the interior of the automobile. Aware more than ever of the importance of sustainability, the company launched to the market the second generation of green polyurethane foams that constitute the heart of the headliner.

 

The headliner is made from a "sandwich" substrate and has a double function, aesthetic, by hiding the body in white and curtain airbags, and functional absorbing noise and isolating the cabin. The core of the substrate is a semi-rigid polyurethane foam with two layers of fiberglass adhesive to a face fabric.

 

Some functional components are later added to the b-face of the headliner. This foam stands out for its great versatility, its good mechanical and acoustic properties, thermal insulation, and for its low weight (the lowest on the market). The formulations to make the foam are technically demanding developments, to meet the client’s specifications.

 

Grupo Antolin has developed an innovative formulation with a plant-based majority component, a polyol synthesised from castor oil (NOP: Natural Oil Polyol). Polyol comes from renewable sources, castor oil, intended for industrial consumption only. The "bio" component constitutes more than 15% of the new formulation versus those on the market to date that barely exceed 5%.

 

The production process is simpler, with lower risk of accidents, requires lower energy consumption and generates lower CO2 emissions compared to that of conventional polyols of petrochemical origin. The production of the headliner with green foam allows the use of the same process and tooling as technologies with fossil materials.

 

Foams obtained from NOP are comparable to conventional ones, both in physical and processing properties. These foams have already been applied by Grupo Antolin on some serial car models with remarkable success.

 

The second generation of NOP offers greater weight reduction, lower odour emissions and improvements in mechanical and acoustic properties. In addition, this product can be combined in the manufacturing process with other renewable materials (such as natural and artificial fiber reinforcements instead of fiberglass). In this case, up to 40% of the weight of the substrate could composed of bio-based materials with extraordinary life cycle results, something unique in the market.

 

Green polyurethane foam is a key chapter in Grupo Antolin Sustainability Master Plan, setting standards for the industrial production of sustainable products by the company.

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