Forlì, 9 October 2015

The new polyolefin compound with 3M™ Glass Bubbles, for lightweight parts, has been approved by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

SO.F.TER. presents a new material destined to revolutionize the weight reduction plans of car manufacturers that now have a great new opportunity for reducing the weight and emissions of automobiles. Litepol® is a new polyolefin compound reinforced with hollow glass microspheres, an innovative filler developed by 3M™ which has a density of less than one fifth of other mineral fillers such as talc or solid glass beads.

Litepol® has the same mechanical characteristics as polypropylene filled with 20% talc but weighs approximately 30% less and can be used in many interior components of cars such as the dashboard carrier, glove box interior, consoles and air ducts. Depending on requirements, it is possible to balance the mechanical properties and the lightness of the material to obtain the desired end result. For example, for components that require a greater structural capability, a hybrid grade (10% glass fibre and 20% glass microspheres) is already available which offers very good mechanical properties, comparable to a 30% glass fibre but with a weight saving of about 20%.

The first reactions, which were very positive, to the new material came from Fiat Group which, after testing Litepol®, has already included it in its polypropylene material standards (FCA Material Standard 55246, approved as Polifor C8 HB/24).

«Now, with the revolutionary Litepol®, SO.F.TER. can offer car manufacturers one of the most innovative and competitive tools on the market for reducing emissions,» said Riccardo Meucci, Global Commercial Director. «Our capabilities are not just about formulation and production, but also include the test and start up of the new material, which are very important phases. Moreover, we already see interesting developments for Litepol® even outside of the automotive industry» concluded Riccardo Meucci.

In recent years SO.F.TER. has developed many innovative materials specifically for the automotive industry, such as natural fibre composites or rigid/soft bi-material systems (Dolphin and Smartouch 2K) for the production of a fully recyclable dashboard in a single processing step, according to the "Total Dashboard" concept. With the new Litepol®, SO.F.TER. Group proves to be one of the most dynamic and innovative global manufacturers in the industry.

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