By European Plastics News staff
Shanghai, China - Sabic this month exhibited a new steering wheel prototype, injection-moulded in its Lexan EXL copolymer resin, at the Chinaplas show, held in Shanghai.
There are two versions of the glass-filled, polycarbonate-siloxane resin design. One is injection-moulded in two parts and finished with a leather wrap, the other is injection-moulded in one part then overmoulded with polyurethane. Both are attached to the steering column with a small metal hub.
"It's high time for a new direction in steering wheel design, and Sabic Innovative Plastics has made a 180-degree turn with our two-part moulded design," said V. Umamaheswaren, director of products and marketing. "Tough new demands on steering wheels -- from integration of features and weight-out -- require an entirely new approach."
The new steering wheels cut system costs by up to 20 percent and reduce mass by up to 40 percent compared to traditional magnesium or aluminium alloy models.
In addition, injection moulding Lexan EXL is a more environmentally responsible process than die casting magnesium alloy as it reduces CO2 emissions, said Sabic. Compared to die casting 1.1kg of magnesium alloy, which generates nearly 70kg of carbon dioxide, manufacturing 1.0kg of Lexan EXL copolymer resin only generates 7.6kg, about one-tenth the emissions, claims the firm.
Using Lexan EXL also allows for greater design flexibility and part consolidation through integration of items such as the airbag attachment and horn mechanism, it adds.