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OC Automotive to Showcase Thermoplastic Composites Applications

08 March 2002

The assembled front end module of the BMW Mini-Cooper, new to the U.S. this spring, will be on display at the Owens Corning Automotive booth at the SAE 2002 World Congress.

The front end module features StaMax(R) P, a new thermoplastic composite developed jointly by OC(TM) Automotive and DSM Automotive Polymers. Other StaMax P applications on display include a sealed door module, scheduled to be launched on a high volume B-Class car in the spring of 2002.

StaMax was formed as an Owens Corning and DSM joint venture in the Netherlands in February 1999. Its goal was to combine each company's unique capabilities in glass fiber reinforced thermoplastics. Owens Corning brings its patented process and proprietary glass fiber technology to the venture. DSM offers specific thermoplastic materials, production and application know- how.

The primary applications for StaMax P thermoplastic composites include door structures, instrument carriers, splash shields, bumper beams and integrated front-end systems.

In the Mini-Cooper, StaMax P is capable of replacing numerous metal parts by combining the pieces into a carrier that is lighter, more cost-effective and, combined with attached accessories, can be delivered directly to the automaker as a fully integrated module for installation on the assembly line. StaMax P is also replacing GMT and other engineering plastics by providing lower system costs and lower weight "StaMax P can be processed on existing, standard injection molding, injection-compression molding and extrusion-compression molding equipment without requiring major investments," said Leon Jacobs, general manager, StaMax.

StaMax P bridges the gap between short fiber components and glass-mat thermoplastic compounds, providing automakers with increased design freedom thanks to consistent distribution of glass fibers in the polymer, Jacobs said.

"The 2002 BMW Mini-Cooper front-end carrier made with StaMax P thermoplastic composite demonstrates how the material can integrate component functions and reduce weight and overall system costs compared to steel," said Dr. Andrew Hopkins, acting general manager, OC Automotive.

Benefits of the StaMax P front-end module to the consumer include the cost and weight reduction versus steel and an integration of functions.

The European B-Car sealed door module on display at SAE is the second major application for StaMax P. The StaMax P door replaces numerous metal parts by combining the pieces into a carrier that's lighter, costs less and, combined with attached accessories, can be delivered directly to the automaker as a fully integrated module for installation on the assembly line. StaMax P is also replacing GMT and other engineering plastics by providing lower system costs and lower weight.

Until now, most automotive modules have focused on front-end and instrument-panel applications. "Door modules, such as the one we are demonstrating here, are the logical next step," says Jacobs. As engineered for the new vehicle, the carrier on which all door components such as locks, window regulators, loudspeakers, cable trays and clips are mounted is made of StaMax P. The carrier also functions as a wet- dry separator between the inner and outer door. Sealing foam is applied in such a way that the carrier can be easily removed and recycled separately.