Tier 1 automotive supplier Grupo Antolin has developed the world's first car headliner substrate by thermoforming PU foam using materials obtained from urban and post-consumer plastic waste, as well as end-of-life tires.
The company, situated in Burgos, Spain, is a global leader in the creation of vehicle interiors, supplying one out of every four car headliners produced worldwide, among other services. These are constructed using a variety of technological fabrics, foams, and composites.
The new headliner is reported to look and perform identically to the company's existing headliners, and it was made feasible by a chemical recycling method invented by BASF, which Antolin has now tested and implemented in a fully electric European premium automobile that has just hit the market.
According to the firm, around 50% of the headliner weight is recycled, and 100% of the textiles, 70% of the core foam, and 70% of the plastic sunroof reinforcement frame were sourced from waste that couldn't be recycled in any other manner.
Enrique Fernandez, advanced engineering director of Antolin's Overhead Systems unit, said that this initiative is a major jump for wet PU (polyurethane) technology and a step toward a more sustainable automobile interior trim. It is a technique that has been proved to be the most cost-effective and high-quality, while also matching our clients' most stringent demands.
Javier Blanco, sustainability director, said that their next project, which will use recycled core PU foam and renewable electricity, will be unveiled in 2022. They have made a commitment to eliminate waste and pollution in all of their manufacturing operations.
Grupo Antolin recycles interior trim parts in a variety of ways, with mechanical recycling of thermoplastic materials being one of the most well-known. Novaform, the company's method, can turn a variety of recycled plastic and synthetic fibers into car parts.
Many thermoset materials, however, are not mechanically recyclable, thus the company developed Coretech, a way of converting waste from headliners into construction boards.
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