August 2, 2023
Global technology company Altair and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), both based in Michigan, US, named Marelli a 2023 Enlighten Award winner in the Future of Lightweighting category for its “Lightweight Urethane for Interior Products”. The award ceremony was held on August 1st, as part of the CAR Management Briefing Seminars (MBS), an event focused on the future of the global automotive industry.
Marelli has developed a new lightweight polyurethane foam that can be applied to all foam-in-place (FIP) applications, particularly the main dashboard panel. It reduces weight by 40% with new tooling (8% with current tooling), decreases foam thickness by 50% – to support styling aesthetics – and reduces raw material costs by 20%, as compared to the current foam in use. In line with the industry’s ongoing focus on sustainability and eco-friendly materials, the new foam also reduces the environmental impact of automotive production, through its reduced material usage per part, lower density, and 80% reduction in volatile organic compounds (VOCs.)
While delivering environmental benefits, this new foam meets and often exceeds customer specifications for high-quality feel and appearance of interiors. FIP technology is an automotive interior staple for efficiently achieving a much-desired soft feel in primary touch surface parts, such as the main dash panel, door panels, and the center console armrest. This achievement is the result of a joint development with materials partner Covestro, aimed to create a more efficient and sustainable material, that led to a win-win result for both companies, customers, and vehicle owners.
Considering plastic parts are an area where it is difficult to save weight without sacrificing strength, durability, or function, the targets reached are even more relevant. Marelli will deploy this new foam with a special focus on the main dash panel, which carries the instrument cluster, infotainment system, and glove box. The application of this new foam, as for any FIP product, will not require changes to the shop floor and will immediately provide a lighter-weight product. This presents a significant opportunity for the automotive industry to improve the performance and efficiency of production vehicles, including EVs.
“We are honored to receive the 2023 Altair Enlighten Award for our polyurethane foam technology,” said Tsukasa Fujii, president of Marelli’s Interior Experience division. “This innovation provides substantial weight savings and reduces volatile organic compounds as compared to previous materials. This accomplishment is proof that our advanced engineering efforts can go a long way in helping automakers achieve tough lightweighting and sustainability targets.”
Created in 2013 to specifically acknowledge innovations in vehicle lightweighting,the Altair Enlighten Award honors the world’s greatest achievements in sustainability and lightweighting that successfully reduce carbon footprint, mitigate water and energy consumption, and leverage material reuse and recycling efforts.