KRATON CORPORATION ANNOUNCES FIRST COMMERCIAL LAUNCH IN CHINA OF IMSS™ TECHNOLOGY ON BUICK GL6 CAR MODEL
HOUSTON, Feb. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Kraton Corporation (NYSE: KRA), a leading global producer of specialty polymers and high-value biobased products derived from pine wood pulping co-products, announces the first commercial application of IMSS™ technology in an automotive application. SAIC-GM (a joint venture between General Motors Company and SAIC Motor Corporation Limited) officially released the 2021 Buick GL6 model’s newly engineered interior in late November 2020 in the Chinese market. (https://gmauthority.com/blog/2020/11/2021-buick-gl6-receives-mid-cycle-refresh-in-china/). Innovative interior design highlights this model, including the instrument panel skin, manufactured utilizing Kraton Corporation’s IMSS™ technology (Injection Molded Soft-Skin). The GL6 is the first mass-produced car in the world to use this revolutionary material.
IMSS technology is enabled by Kraton’s innovative, ultra-high flow thermoplastic elastomers, belonging to the Hydrogenated Styrenic Block Copolymers (HSBC) family. Unlike the traditional PVC soft skins, HSBC-based soft skins allow injection molding of large, thin-walled soft skin parts, such as instrument panel skins. They provide lower odor, fogging, VOCs, better aging, subsequently improved safety performance, and lower specific gravity. They contain no added plasticizer, phthalates, or cross-linking agents.
A Director at SAIC-GM Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center said, “SAIC-GM has been committed to the application of innovative materials technology to provide consumers with a more comfortable and environmentally friendly driving experience. Compared with traditional PVC skin, IMSS can further improve the interior environment and reduce odor and VOC concentration in the passengers’ compartment. Being the first company in the world to apply this technology underscores the importance SAIC-GM places on the consumer experience.”
The production of instrument panel soft skin with an injection molding process can help automotive interior manufacturers avoid the high-cost, labor-intensive, and energy-consuming slush molding process. Additionally, the injection molding equipment offers higher efficiency, lower cost, and less energy consumption. The time needed for making an IMSS skin by injection molding can be as low as one-fifth of that required for making a PVC soft skin of similar size by slush process. Compared with electroformed slush molds, injection-molding tools offer longer life, a shorter development cycle, and a more mature supply, so the development and manufacturing costs of Kraton’s IMSS skins are lower than traditional PVC slush molded skins.
According to Bas Hennissen, Kraton’s commercial VP of the Specialties business: “It’s a growing trend in the auto industry to introduce soft surfaces replacing hard plastic interiors. Kraton IMSS technology offers considerable cost and performance advantages over the existing soft skin technologies, with a better sustainability profile. It is exciting to see the successful application of IMSS technology mass-produced in the GL6 project. Now proven in the marketplace, we feel there will be more car models manufactured with IMSS technology.”
Since the inception of the project, IMSS technology has undergone rigorous material and part testing, achieving excellent results. The first car model’s mass production implementing IMSS technology indicates that it has gained the full validation of a major automotive producer and is recognized as a fully viable and superior alternative to PVC slush molded instrument panel skins.
Joseph Zhu, head of IAC China Technology Center, stated that: “In the increasingly competitive environment of the automotive industry, IMSS technology can help reduce the production cost of interior skin, while providing better and innovative product performance, in response to the emerging industry requirements. This innovation will have a profound impact on the present and future development of the interior industry.”
The IMSS compound used to manufacture the Buick GL6 instrument panel soft skin is supplied by Dawn New Materials Co. Ltd. in China. This innovative IMSS compound was developed by Dawn, working in close cooperation with Kraton as a technology transfer licensee of the IMSS technology. Kraton has also established technology licenses with several other premier compounders worldwide to make this technology available to all automobile manufacturers as its adoption builds in the industry. If you are interested in pursuing this technology, please contact Kraton to establish connections in your area.
Since being presented to the automotive industry, this technology has received positive attention and recognition. On June 10, 2020, Kraton IMSS™ Technology received a Ringier Technology Innovation Award – Plastics Industry in the Raw Material & Additives category. Kraton’s IMSS technology was also recognized by The European Rubber Journal’s (ERJ) in the Elastomers for Sustainability (ES4) contest as a viable alternative to slush-molded PVC in automotive instrument panel skin applications.
About Kraton Corporation
SOURCE: Kraton Corporation