POLYCARBONATE & AUTOMOTIVE, A PERFECT COMBINATION
More than half a century ago, the production of Polycarbonate started in Germany.
This splendid amorphous polymer in sixty years of history has allowed hundreds of engineers to create new applications in all industrial sectors.
On July 20, 1969, Polycarbonate landed on the moon in the form of a visor in astronauts’ helmets.
An ideal material for innovations
Speaking of innovations made possible by Polycarbonate, we cannot forget that its mechanical and optical qualities have allowed the creation of revolutionary artifacts such as music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays.
While always maintaining its TG (Glass Transition Point) at 150°C, high fluidity grades (high MFI) have been created for these types of products.
On the other hand, the high molecular weight and branched versions (low MFI) realized for the production of compact and structural flat sheets represented a turning point in industrial and construction sectors.
It is a material that makes the difference!
It has certainly made a difference in the air, sea and land transport sector, allowing the evolution of dozens of applications to which it has always added the value of lightness and safety, with constant performance over time.
Polycarbonate in the automotive sector
Even today, in an advanced and particularly dynamic sector such as Automotive, which is currently facing an important evolutionary crossroads (from fossil to electric propulsion), this material remains an undisputed protagonist.
Among the numerous Engineering Polymers used by the automotive sector, PC is certainly the one that offers designers the greatest satisfaction both in the internal parts of the car and in the external ones, the latter will be increasingly visible in the future.
Even when it does not appear as the main protagonist, it continues to be a strategic polymer for the formulation of other materials, such as alloys and blends as: PC/ABS, PC/ASA, PC/PET and PC/PBT.
Each of these alloys and blends are based on Polycarbonate. Each of them finds its own precise place in cars of every producer and model, worldwide.
These formulations draw strength and rely on a number of intrinsic properties of Polycarbonate, such as:
- very high impact resistance
- low density
- surface gloss
- heat resistance
- content and uniform shrinkage
- very low water absorption
- good electrical insulation properties
- intrinsic self-extinguishing properties
It is a range of qualities not easily found in other materials, which led to it being defined “unbreakable light glass“.
Polymers for the cars of the future
The future of the car is certainly electric.
This transition from internal combustion to electric engine has already been written for years, and it is the only ready to use solution to allow the zeroing of greenhouse gas emissions -provided that the electricity used does not come from fossil sources but from renewable sources- and pave the way for a new design of vehicles and structures that will work with/for them (roads, motorways, parking lots).
For the purpose of complete sustainability, at the moment there is still a weak point, represented by batteries, which are however destined to change radically in the near future. They will become more efficient, completely recyclable and smaller, to the point of disappearing completely, replaced by autonomous on demand power generators.
We will thus see ever lighter and more multi-functional cars, which, however, must continue to ensure maximum safety in terms of mechanical resistance and, in particular, impact resistance.
There will be increasingly wider transparent surfaces applications, for which Polycarbonate will be able to provide an adequate response.
Lightness is a highly added value in the automotive world and can only be achieved with an extensive use of polymers. That is the reason why they have gained application space in various parts of the cars (see image).
Already now we can perceive the strategic value of Polycarbonate in various critical and exposed parts of the car, such as the headlights, some transparent elements of the passenger compartment and in the panoramic roofs.
The material is certainly awaiting a change of scale in the application field, also thanks to the surface finishing and protection techniques (based on acrylic or silicone lacquers) developed over the years.
Other solutions are available for the technical compound making sector. Grades that meet the favor of the most demanding customers, thanks to their quality and performance consistency lot after lot.