New products: Hexpol unveils 'circular TPE' for automotive interiors

MALMO, Sweden—Hexpol TPE has expanded its range of thermoplastic elastomer materials with recycled content to be used for automotive interiors.

The company's new Dryflex Circular TPE grades have been tested for odor and emissions performance in automotive interiors and are currently being approved by a German car manufacturer, Hexpol announced Aug. 24.

Launched in 2019, Dryflex TPEs incorporate recycled polymers from various sources, including post-consumer and post-industrial plastic waste.

"Recent developments resulted in us bringing the first TPE with recycled content for automotive interior applications to the market," said Ing. Thomas Koeppl, group product manager of Hexpol TPE.

According to Hexpol TPE, an important aspect of automotive interior parts is their emission behavior regarding odor and volatile substances.

While the exact specifications and requirements vary depending on application and OEM, the material odor must generally not be disturbing even at higher temperatures such as 80°C.

According to the Swedish compounder, a representative Dryflex Circular TPE grade—a 65 Shore A material for inlay mats with a recyclate content of 20 percent—showed a very low amount of VOC (60 μg/g) and FOG (594 μg/g).

The TPE also was tested at an external accredited laboratory, where it was shown to have "almost no odor (grade 2.0 according to VDA 270, B3)," Hexpol TPE said.

To produce the grades, the compounder said it sourced recyclates from injection molding sprues or edge trims in extrusions.

The chosen recyclates, it said, were selected due to their "high levels of consistency and purity."

Hexpol TPE manufactures Dryflex TPEs at its European sites, which use 100 percent renewable electricity.

The colorable TPEs, according to the company, can be used in various automotive interior applications such as inlay mats, cup holders, sealing lips and HVAC parts.

In addition to the circular grades, Hexpol TPE also offers bio-based materials to support automotive suppliers and OEMs to increase the use of recycled and renewable materials.

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