3M glass bubbles enable sheet molded composites for auto industry

By replacing conventional fillers, these hollow glass microspheres can reduce the weight of molded parts without sacrificing strength or aesthetics. 

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3M (St. Paul, MN, US) introduced May 7 Glass Bubbles S32HS, a lightweight sheet molded composite (SMC) product, to help OEMs achieve up to a 40% weight reduction of composite parts, at a density below 1.0 g/cc, while still enabling a class A paintable finish. This innovation makes SMCs an attractive option in automotive design for OEMs.

“With the trend toward electric and high efficiency cars, reducing overall vehicle weight is key to staying competitive,” says Ray Eby, vice president of 3M Automotive Electrification. “A typical automobile has about 660 lb of composite parts. With ultra lightweight SMCs enabled by our glass bubbles, OEMs can significantly improve a vehicle’s energy usage, while saving money – one less bump in the road in the race to automotive electrification.”

For many years, 3M has partnered with the automotive industry to enable weight reductions for major automotive manufacturers. By replacing conventional fillers, these hollow glass microspheres can reduce the weight of molded parts without sacrificing strength or aesthetics. 

“Our customers continue to challenge us to lower the density and weight of fiberglass reinforced material systems to support their automotive lightweighting efforts,” says Terrence O’Donovan, vice president, marketing and sales for Core Molding Technologies (Columbus, OH, US). “A density of 1.0g/cc or below has long been a goal, while still enabling a Class A finish. Using 3M Glass Bubbles helps enable us to meet our customers’ expectations.”   

 

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