Sustainability in the automotive industry is not just about the power source. Choosing the right materials is of importance in an equation where lightness equals efficiency.
Walki has designed a broad range of automotive skins that not only make sure car parts like headliners or carpets are as light as possible, but also muffles noise. Add to that substantially less glass fibre and flame-retardancy, and you’ve got skins that benefit both the passengers and the environment.
When consumers think about sustainability and vehicles, they tend to focus on the power source. But there are also a lot of other factors at play in making a vehicle sustainable. One such thing is minimizing weight to achieve energy efficiency. This is of importance both for combustion engine cars and electric vehicles alike.
Walki’s contribution to sustainable vehicles is its offering of lightweight skins with a big variety of additional attributes. These extrusion-coated skins are always a component of an interior or exterior trim part, delivering a multitude of barrier and structural functions. Skins can be found all over the vehicle: in the engine covers, hood liners, underbody shields, headliners, wheel arch liners, carpets and trunk load floors among others. So how much the skin weighs do add up to make a difference in the vehicle’s total weight and thus energy consumption.
“Reducing weight is one of the most pressing challenges for modern car manufacturers”, says Silvia Hanzelova, who is Automotive and Technical Skins Category manager at Walki.
Another pressing issue is noise reduction both inside in the passenger’s space and the bypass noise outside the vehicle. This is especially important for electric vehicles as they lack the sound of the internal combustion engine humming. This has passengers complaining about the other sounds coming from the vehicle moving such as sound from the road or mechanical components. There has been EU regulation in place since 2014 for noise reduction in the automotive industry.
“Our skins act as an efficient acoustic barrier”, explains Hanzelova.
The rise of electrical vehicles has put flame-retardancy even higher up on the agenda as the battery is placed underneath the passengers. Walki’s flame-retardant skins are suitable for three key automotive applications: hood liner, the inner dash, and the underbody shield.
Walki offers two solutions: Walki®FeatherForm and Walki®EasySeal. Walki®FeatherForm is a thermo-formable glass veil-reinforced skin that is “light as a feather”. It delivers stiffness and lightweight properties, while simplifying customer production processes and delivering improved health and safety performance.
Walki®EasySeal is a thermo-formable automotive skin that ensures optimal adhesion and excellent mechanical and chemical bonding at a wide range of processing temperatures, acting as an effective acoustic, moisture and gas barrier.
The car industry is looking to reduce or even completely replace the use of chopped glass fibre, as it comes with substantial health hazard in the manufacturing process. Walki has answered to this need by using considerably less glass fibre compared to current alternatives on the market while maintaining or even improving the performance of the car parts.
Walki®FeatherForm uses up to 70% less chopped glass fibre in a trunk load floor while still maintaining the same physical performance”, says Hanzelova.
The automotive industry is undergoing a huge transformation in its quest to offer more sustainable vehicles. The future will be a mix of conventional cars, hybrids and electrical vehicles.
“Walki’s skins can help improve the environmental impact of all these vehicle types”, says Silvia Hanzelova.