IAC has moulded a Jaguar Land Rover column shroud in a recycled PP compound as part of the first full scale commercial trial of the innovative Hycolene compounds developed by Luxus, based in the UK.
JLR, Luxus, IAC and Coperion are part of the Recyclite project, which is aiming to commercialise Hycolene PP compounds for Class A interior surfaces in cars. The compounds have high scratch resistance, are lighter than existing compounds and can have up to 60% recycled content.
The first full scale commercial trial took place at Tier 1 supplier IAC's plant in Scunthorpe, UK, in September. Luxus said results showed that the scratch performance of Hycolene has “significantly improved on the current product”.
As well as the higher recycled PP content, Hycolene compounds are different from current PP compounds filled with talc or chalk in their use of synthetic mineral fibres as reinforcing additives. The resulting lower density can reduce part weight by up to 12%, according to Luxus.
The trial also demonstrated that Hycolene can produce a much faster cycle time, which Luxus said converts into a cost saving of 8-12%, as more parts per tonne can be processed.
Dave Jenkins, product engineering at IAC, said: “From my perspective this was a very encouraging first trial, although further trials are required to fully optimise the product. A range of components also need to be run, so we can understand the material's strengths and weaknesses. These will commence once the initial component lab testing is completed satisfactorily.”
Luxus is working closely with twin-screw compounding extruder maker Coperion to perfect the compounds. The commercial trial followed initial scale-up tests at Coperion's pilot plant in Stuttgart, Germany, which focused on different formulations, screw designs and process conditions.
Luxus said: “For the trial itself, identical formulations, screw design and process conditions were created using Luxus' bespoke Coperion extruder to establish scale-up parameters. This was to ensure the best environment for the first full scale batch to be used by IAC for its moulding trial. The consortium partners all agreed that the column shroud should be adopted for this trial since it's a critical Class A visual component in the cabin.”
Results from the trial will be used to improve material qualities in the next stage of the project. Luxus will then produce different grades of Hycolene and work with IAC to produce further parts for statistical analysis.
Luxus said it will also look at other markets where lightweighting and scratch-resistance are of benefit such as the educational furniture market.