Picture: Mazda MX-5 with parts made from bio-based engineering plastic

Mazda develops bioplastic for exterior car parts

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  • Bioplastic suitable for both interior and exterior parts
  • Parts are as durable as conventional painted ABS plastic parts
  • Mazda and Mitsubishi Chemical developed bio-based engineering plastic

Mazda Motor Corporation has announced that, in conjunction with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, it has developed a new bio-based engineering plastic that can be used for exterior design parts for automobiles.

As the plastic is made from plant-derived materials, its adoption will help to curb the use of petroleum resources and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Furthermore, the material can be dyed and emissions of volatile organic compounds associated with the painting process reduced. Dyed parts made from the bio-based engineering plastic feature a finish of higher-quality than can be achieved with traditional painted plastic. The deep hue and smooth, mirror-like finish of the surface make the newly-developed plastic suitable for external vehicle parts.

Biofabric for vehicle seat upholstery made entirely from plant-derived fibre

Mazda has been developing technologies in the biomass field for a number of years. To date, under the “Mazda Biotech material” name, the company has succeeded in developing the automotive industry’s first high-strength heat-resistant plant-derived bioplastic for auto interior parts, and the world’s first biofabric for vehicle seat upholstery made entirely from plant-derived fibre, according to the company.

Bioplastic suitable for both interior and exterior parts

However, to be suitable for exterior parts, plastics are required to possess not only a high quality finish, but also very good weather, scratch and impact resistance in order to stand up to harsh environmental factors to which they are exposed. Achieving this combination of characteristics with bioplastics has posed a technical challenge. Now, Mazda has succeeded in making a material suitable for both interior and exterior parts.

Parts are as durable as conventional painted ABS plastic parts

This has been achieved by optimising the composition of a newly developed, highly mouldable and durable bioplastic base material with additives and colouring agents (patent pending), and optimising moulding specifications. This will enable the company to produce parts that are as durable as conventional painted ABS plastic parts yet feature high quality finish.

This bio-based engineering plastic will make its debut on interior parts for All-New Mazda MX-5 which will be launched globally in 2015. Moving forward, it will be used for exterior parts in other production models.

Picture: Mazda MX-5 with parts made from bio-based engineering plastic
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