The material, Softell Textile, is a recyclable polypropylene (PP) compound featuring a textile-like surface finish as preferred by automotive material engineers and designers. Injection-molded components made out of this material can be used in car interiors.
Softell Textile was unveiled by plastics, chemical and refining company Lyondell Basell on October 19.
“The material is a polypropylene compound with 25% glass-fiber content. It has an outstanding impact and scratch resistance and has a soft touch which gives pleasant touch and feel characteristics,” company spokesperson Andreas Anker told Materials Science. “It looks fabric-like due to its surface structure and the patented pigmentation, but as it is has a polypropylene surface, it is easy to wipe and clean.”
The current process uses real textile fabric applied on a plastic component. In a single process parts come straight out of the machine without requiring any additional processing. “The cost savings by eliminating one production step is significant,” said Anker.
The material was intended to be used as trim in automotive interiors initially, but Anker revealed that the material is “certainly suitable for other applications” and confirmed that several Automotive OEMs are interested in using this new material in their vehicles as trim for interior pillars.