Car manufacturer Mazda, have launched a new bioplastic which will mean that its cars no longer need to be painted with toxic chemicals. The Japanese car company have been working in collaboration with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation to develop the new bio engineering plastic from the polymer isosorbide. This means that Mazda is able to use a non-toxic compound derived from plant based materials. The unpainted plastic is also scratch and weather resistant to deliver a unique selling point for its customers. So there are not only environmental benefits to this decision but also practical ones. The Roadster RF convertible coated in the bioplastic, was exhibited last month at Tokyo’s EcoPro2016 trade show on green technologies. For the last couple of years the same plastic has also been used more extensively in their cars’ interiors which include the Roadster, Axela sedan, Demio compact car, and the CX-9 SUV. But now Mazda has succeeded in making a material suitable for both interior and exterior parts.
Mazda have been developing technologies in the biomass field for a number of years. The technology was first produced in 2015 when it was used for interior parts on the all-new Mazda MX-5. It was achieved by optimising the composition of a highly mouldable and durable new bioplastic base material with additives and colouring agents, and enhancing moulding specifications. Most vehicles in the industry use a combination of mix metal, oil-based polycarbonates and painted resin to form their outer shell. But this is exactly what Mazda is looking to replace with the new bioplastic which eliminates harmful paint emissions. As a result, Mazda will be able to curb their petroleum usage and CO2 emissions.
Isosorbide is most famously connected to its contribution to medicine but now it is being used in plastic. This key component is added to PET to produce PEIT. The addition of isosorbide means that it has better heat resistance and better optical clarity to the plastic. This will enable the company to produce parts that are as durable as conventional painted ABS plastic parts, yet feature a higher-quality finish and the associated design advantages. And since the bioplastic can be dyed and does not require painting, it also reduces emissions of volatile organic compounds. Dying the material gives the parts a deep hue and smooth, mirror-like finish of a higher quality than can be achieved with a traditional painted plastic.
"Though the material cost is higher than that of ABS resin, it eliminates the painting process," Mazda said. "As a result, it realises a manufacturing cost lower than that of conventional painted parts."
At the conference in Tokyo, they claimed that this is a strategy the company plans to use as part of the production of Mazda cars for the future.
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