By Liz White, ERJ staffAuburn Hills, Michigan-New structural foam inserts made of polyurethane (SFIs) are in commercial use, and can support vehicle body stiffness and increase handling performance on various vehicle types, claims developer Dow Automotive.In these SFIs, called Betafoam, structural polyurethane foam is moulded into pre-formed geometries. When cured, the PU foam is overmoulded with Betamate-a structural adhesive, using a proprietary Dow Automotive resin transfer moulding process. This techniques, Dow says, allows the SFIs to nest seamlessly into sheet-metal cavities," while the epoxy adhesive expands and rigidly bonds the foam parts to the surrounding steel structure during plant bake processes." According to a Dow release, SFIs from Dow Automotive are now in use on several General Motors vehicles. One example is an application in the upper centre pillar area of the 2005 Buick LaCrosse. Dow Automotive's work on the 2005 Buick LaCrosse helped benchmark the capabilities of the SFI technology," said the group. These SFIs offer customers the benefit of combining traditional Betafoam polyurethane foam solutions with the convenience of easy to install pre-formed parts," commented Paul Juras, market development manager for Dow Automotive. Dow combined its experience in materials science with our engineering capabilities to create a parts solution that integrates multiple Dow Automotive bulk material technologies. We're confident that these structural foam inserts can be designed to support a wide variety of vehicle architectures and application requirements," Juras added. "