Foam as one-to-one replacement for solid PE and PP

  • Stiff foam boards offer 50-70% weight reduction in automotive applications
  • Closed cell structure prevents penetration of moisture/liquids into the foam
  • Applications: wheel well liners, engine compartment liners, among others

Sekisui Alveo, the manufacturer of polyolefin foams, has introduced new closed-cell PP foam boards for applications in the automotive and packaging industry. The stiff foam boards, available in a thickness range of 1-5 mm, are 50-70% lighter than e.g. injection-moulded solid plastics used in comparable applications. Thus, the stiff foam is an alternative for large-surface-area components such as coverings usually made of solid plastics.

Applications: from wheel well liners to under the hood coverings

For passenger cars as well as trucks, the company sees potential for replacing numerous hard plastic surface coverings with the foam boards. Possible applications include wheel well liners, which shield the vehicle body from highway stone. In this application, the robust, bending-resistant foam also expands Sekisui Alveo’s current solutions for acoustical insulation. The same applies for engine compartment liners, which are subject to special heat resistance requirements. It is also possible to use the material for surface coverings in vehicle interiors together with an appropriate fabric or foil covering, e.g. in the trunk. In general, this material can be considered as a one-to-one replacement for solid PE and PP materials used to make deep-drawn or press moulded parts.

Foam board

The closed-cell PP foam boards are available in a thickness range of 1-5 mm (Source: Sekisui Alveo)

Foldable foam for packaging applications

In the packaging industry the stiff foam boards can be used to replace PE, PP or ABS hard plastics, for example in transport boxes and small load carriers. The polyolefin foam material also allows weight reduction of dividers, an important argument in view of increasing fuel costs and the requirements for reducing CO2 emissions. Another advantage over plastic hollow-chamber multi-wall sheets normally used for load carriers is much easier cleaning, because Alveocel LP F, with its closed cell structure, offers less surface area to catch dirt and the material does not absorb water. Cut edges are also closed celled, which prevents the penetration of moisture or liquids into the foam. The material can be folded in any desired direction.

The closed-cell PP foam is produced at a density of 0.2-0.6 g/cm3 and is heat resistant up to 140 degree C. In addition, the hundred-percent recyclable material offers good thermal insulation. The foam boards can be press moulded and vacuum formed, and the material serves well as a substrate for laminated coverings.

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