11. Apr 2016
Lightweight and heat resistant, the roof frame used in the new Mercedes-Benz E-class is the first in the world to be made entirely of natural fiber. Cars fitted with the roof frame have been available from dealers in Europe since the beginning of April 2016.
The lightweight roof frame was developed by the International Automotive Components Group (IAC), a global leading supplier to the automobile industry, in close collaboration with BASF. The innovation was made possible by the use of BASF's water-based Acrodur 950 L binder.
Use of this binder ensures the necessary loading capacity while providing the necessary toughness and heat resistance demanded. As an alternative to phenolic resins, the water-based and low-emission binder strengthens the natural fibers and thus enables an environmentally compatible, dimensionally stable and, above all, lightweight solution for car roof frames.
“Natural-fiber roof frames based on Acrodur 950 L are around 40 percent lighter than roof frames made from metal. Hence, we help car makers achieve their sustainability targets because lighter vehicles consume less fuel and have lower carbon emissions,” explains Thorsten Habeck, Head of Marketing for Dispersions for Fiber Bonding at BASF.
IAC, a leading manufacturer of car interior systems, developed the innovative lightweight concept and is producing the new roof frame. “It was easy to integrate the BASF binder into our production system. The natural fiber components that are strengthened with Acrodur are ideal to mold; they are environmentally friendly and save time during the production of the composites,” says Fritz Schweindl, Director Advanced Engineering at IA. He added: “Furthermore, the product is low in emissions, which means that it is safer to work with.”
Acrodur binders are used to strengthen natural fiber mats that are further processed into molded parts. Not only is Acrodur environmentally compatible, it also ensures the simple and unproblematic processing, assembly and molding of semi-finished products as well as properties perfectly fitting to the material. The binders are used for the production of high-quality lightweight applications in the furniture and automotive industry.