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Luxus teams up with JLR for new auto interiors material

The Hycolene material was used for test purposes on a JLR column shroud, which attaches the steering wheel to the dashboard

Luxus has revealed it is working with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) on a revolutionary new high-performance polypropylene.

The Lincolnshire-based technical recycling and compounder is one of four firms researching and testing Hycolene, which can have up to 60% recycled material.

Speaking to PRW at the PDM event, Louth-based Luxus revealed that it came up with the initial idea and pitched it to JLR.

Two rounds of production tests took place recently, the first in September 2015 and the second in February 2016 at Luxus’ Lincolnshire based in-house technical centre and manufacturing plant, followed by further in-depth analysis at Scunthorpe-based injection moulder IAC’s laboratory. German twin screw manufacturer Coperion is also contributing to the project.

The tests were undertaken on a car’s column shroud and glove box panel – critical ‘A’ grade auto interior components.

The aim was to enable Luxus to optimise both the process parameters and the screw design of its bespoke Coperion 15 extruder to explore the potential for the Hycolene range.

Luxus technicians worked in collaboration with Coperion’s team varying the critical moulding parameters that help to define the ‘envelope’ for the Hycolene grade 16818.

Christel Croft, technical director at Luxus, said: “These production tests have helped to increase our understanding of the impact of process parameters on Hycolene’s key product characteristics, enabling us to assess its performance against existing materials on a true ‘like for like’ basis. Our intention was to really push the boundaries to help understand better its true performance at limits.”

The trials concentrated on the following criteria: scratch resistance; weight savings; appearance and cycle time. The Hycolene 16818 achieved a substantial weight loss and also delivered improved colour, diminished weld lines and a rapid cycle time for reduced energy usage.

Croft added: “We’re very excited about this positive next stage validation for Hycolene following the initial trial in September 2015. The benchmark material we used is excellent itself, which means our results for Hycolene are very encouraging.

“It confirms our ability to produce the range at full commercial scale with the expected benefits still of weight saving, excellent scratch performance and the high quality appearance demanded for ‘A’ grade applications.”

Luxus announced in 2015, that it had as part of a consortium secured, a €1.4m investment, co-funded by the European Union (EU) Eco-Innovation initiative, part of the EU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (EIP).

Around a third of the Louth-based firm’s overall production is for the automotive market, with 33% of that dedicated to automotive interiors.

Trials first began in January 2015, with the product set to be available to use from January 2017. The material was tested with zero, 11%, 26%, 33% and 44% recyclate content.

The research has also found that Hycolene plastic is 3% lighter than current material, the Hycolene moulded part can be made 5% quicker and the material’s manufacture produces 25% less carbon dioxide per tonne.

The material was also odour tested, using a minimum of six ‘trained noses’.

Luxus managing director Peter Atterby said: “Hycolene is a high-performance polymer with an improved lifecycle analysis.

“It has been a great team effort and everyone has come out as win-win from it.”

JLR manager, materials innovation, Robert Crow, said: “We are quite excited by the potential of the product.”

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