Issue: Mar 2012


Volvo Trucks Blaze a New Trail with Industry’s First Injection-molded Thermoplastic Roof Fairing



by Steve Barclay

SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business today announced that its collaboration with CK Technologies, a provider of engineered plastic systems, and Volvo Trucks North America has produced the trucking industry’s first injection-molded roof fairing, soon to be featured on all 2013 Volvo heavy-duty trucks. This large component, molded with SABIC’s tough Cycoloy* polycarbonate/acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (PC/ABS) resin and CK Technologies’ proprietary in-mold coating (IMC) technology, delivers high strength, excellent heat stability and impact performance with a Class A surface. The roof fairing demonstrates the feasibility of replacing traditional thermosets with thermoplastics to reduce weight and energy requirements for manufacturing and enable recycling. Further, the IMC process yields a fully primed part, eliminating the secondary coating steps that generate volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This major breakthrough provides a more environmentally responsible alternative to thermosets without sacrificing the outstanding performance and aesthetics that truck OEMs and end customers expect.

SABIC recently showcased the Volvo roof fairing at the Mid-America Truck Show in Louisville, Ky., from March 22-24.

SABIC is committed to supporting Volvo’s efforts to improve the sustainability of their trucks through weight reduction, aerodynamic designs and energy conservation in manufacturing. With high-performance materials for weight-out already in major components such as side fairing and bumper systems, SABIC and CK Technologies most recent collaboration delivers a completely new roof fairing solution that will make a significant contribution to Volvo’s environmental protection objectives.
“We take pride in our creative and entrepreneurial approach to engineering plastic solutions, such as our in-mold coating technology, to address top challenges facing the trucking industry,” said Michael Ellerman, vice president of technology & new business development, CK Technologies. “We’ve enjoyed a long and productive relationship with SABIC, which shares our focus on innovation and trusted collaboration. SABIC goes above and beyond to support us – with technical resources, application development expertise and a broad portfolio of superior materials vs. thermosets. The results speak for themselves.”

A Revolutionary Replacement for Thermosets

Before SABIC, CK Technologies and Volvo Trucks produced this new injection-molded thermoplastic roof fairing, it was believed that only thermosets were capable of forming such large parts with the desired structural strength and stability to withstand the rigorous demands of trucking operations. However, thermosets presented a number of drawbacks, notably VOC emissions from secondary coating operations; lack of ductility that could lead to shattering and the need for time-consuming repairs; heavy weight that contributed to higher fuel consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions; and an inability to be recycled.

Injection molding SABIC’s Cycoloy resin using IMC technology solves all these challenges. The new roof fairing weighs 20 to 30 percent less than a comparable thermoset part, depending upon the truck model, which helps improve fuel efficiency and cut emissions. Also, injection molding uses less energy and materials than thermoset processing. The IMC technology eliminates secondary priming and coating operations, avoiding VOC emissions and producing a part with a Class A surface finish that is ready for in-line painting. As a thermoplastic, Cycoloy resin can be recycled into new components instead of being sent to a landfill.

From a performance standpoint, the new roof fairings deliver an ideal balance of impact resistance, coefficient of linear thermal expansion, specific gravity and heat deflection temperature to withstand bake ovens.

Michael Gilbert, general manager, Innovative Plastics said, “The roof fairing project represents an important new strategy that can help Volvo Trucks achieve its sustainability and performance goals and strengthen its market leadership in environmental responsibility. As regulatory requirements for greater fuel efficiency and reduced emissions become more stringent, our ongoing success with Volvo and the trucking industry illustrates how SABIC challenges the status quo to deliver world class technology solutions that address evolving industry needs.”

For additional information on SABIC’s high-performance transportation solutions, please go to www.sabic-ip.com. For technical product inquiries, please contact us at www.sabic-ip.com/prtechinquiry.

About Saudi Basic Industries Corporation

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) ranks among the world’s top petrochemical companies, and is a global market leader in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene, advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers. SABIC manufactures with a global footprint in Saudi Arabia, the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific. The company operates in more than 40 countries across the world with 33,000 employees worldwide. It has significant research resources with 18 dedicated Technology & Innovation facilities in Saudi Arabia, the USA, the Netherlands, Spain, India and China. SABIC recorded a net income of SR 29.21 billion (US$ 7.79 billion) in 2011, and sales revenues totaled SR 190 billion (US$ 50.67 billion).

About Innovative Plastics

The Innovative Plastics strategic business unit of SABIC is a leading, global supplier of engineering thermoplastics with an 80-year history of breakthrough solutions that solve its customers’ most pressing challenges. Today, Innovative Plastics is a multi-billion-dollar company with operations in more than 35 countries and approximately 9,000 employees worldwide. The company continues to lead the plastics industry with customer collaboration and continued investments in new polymer technologies, global application development, process technologies, and environmentally responsible solutions that serve diverse markets such as automotive, electronics, building & construction, transportation, and healthcare. The company’s extensive product portfolio includes thermoplastic resins, coatings, specialty compounds, film, and sheet. Innovative Plastics (www.sabic-ip.com) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC).

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