New headliner material reduces panoramic roof weight penalty

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According to Spanish interior specialist Grupo Antolin, panoramic roofs are increasingly in demand across the automotive market. However, this trend coexists with the need to reduce the weight of all automotive components to minimize CO2  emissions and improve the range of EVs.

Grupo Antolin claims to have the answer to this balancing act thanks to a collaboration with BASF, which has validated the use of the Ultradur family of plastics in the production of frames for solar and panoramic roof headliners. Furthermore, the company says it has integrated new design elements within the plastic frames to give a 60% weight reduction compared with other traditional solutions on the market.

The Italian company states that one of the main advantages of the new design is a change in the process for attaching the frame to the headliner, which eliminates manufacturing steps while also improving fitting tolerances.

To increase the mechanical strength of Ultradur material, it has been reinforced with fiberglass and modified with an acrylonitrile and styrene copolymer. The result is a rigid material that has low molding shrinkage, ensuring tight tolerances can be met, for example, during the process of attaching the headliner and plastic parts during production.

“Thanks to the great injection performance and optimal surface quality, the PBT-ASA PET is well suited for producing large and slim interior trim parts. Besides, considering its unbeatable processing advantages, we have been able to reduce weight without losing stiffness or dimensional stability at high temperatures,” explained Enrique Fernández, advanced engineering director of the headliners business unit at Grupo Antolin.

Following the predevelopment work with a German customer, the company says a first pilot production program on a mass-market vehicle has already commenced, with further rollouts due in other OEM applications.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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