Materials EngineeringL Bumper-to-Bumper Looks That Last

July 10, 2008
Fiat set visual appeal as a top priority for designers working on both interior and exterior components of its new 500 model — launched last year to commemorate the car’s 50th anniversary.

Edited by Jean M. Hoffman

The three-door 500 is based on the Fiat’s Panda platform. Designers didn’t disappoint — European journalists named it Car of the Year for 2008. The eye-catching concepts come thanks in part to savvy material selection. They include a large bumper with outstanding scratch resistance, a Class-A smooth surface finish, and good paintability.

Fiat designers worked closely with a parts molder and Austrian materials supplier Borealis Ag to create cutting-edge features that give the small car a highly-differentiated look. The team chose polypropylene-based Daplen thermoplastic olefins (TPOs) from Borealis for bumpers and dashboards. Daplen EE103AE, a high-melt-flow-rate (MFR) TPO, resists scratches and let Ersi mold large surface area parts with uniform thickness. Its low thermal expansion over a broad temperature range ensures consistent large, molded parts that fit precisely to other exterior panels.

The dashboard specs set by Fiat were particularly challenging. For aesthetic surface appeal and to avoid visual defects, Fiat specified a monomaterial for major interior parts. Poland-based parts molder Plastal chose Daplen EE168AI to meet scratch resistance and low-gloss specs. The material also molds with a consistent finish and holds dimensions tight with lowthermal expansion. The Daplen TPO’s high impact/ stiffness ratio is said to improve vehicle safety.

Both bumper and dashboard benefit from the PP’s light weight without compromising part performance. The lighter components help the Fiat 500 fall within the EU CO2 emission standard of 120 gm/km set to take effect in 2012.

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Borealis AG

+43 (0) 122 4000

Borealis AG helped Fiat improve the scratch performance and aesthetics of selected interior and exterior components of its redesigned 500 launched last year.

The Fiat dashboard is molded out of Daplen EE168AI, a monomaterial with scratch resistance and low-gloss specs. It molds with a consistent finish, low thermal expansion, and high impact/stiffness ratio.

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