PARIS—French automotive parts supplier Hutchinson S.A. has developed a thermoplastic car door seal, which is 30-50 percent lighter than its EPDM equivalent.
The new profile is made up of several thermoplastic compounds, some of them vulcanized thermoplastics and some of them elastomers, Innovation Manager Olivier Blottiau said at the Total SA group company.
Two of these compounds have been developed specifically for the automotive sealing application by Hutchinson's in-house compounding team.
"We have our own thermoplastic brand called Vegaprene, explained Blottiau. "We have a dedicated department for that, and if we don't find the quality of materials we are looking for on the market, the team develops specific new grades."
The new product has already received its first customer orders. Jaguar Land Rover plans to use the seals for the Velar model, launched by JLR in 2017, and i-pace intends to include it on the electric SUV, to be retailed this year.
And Tristan de Montlivault, body sealing systems, business development vice president at Hutchinson, expects growth in demand for the new product, which the company currently can manufactures at its plants in Europe, NAFTA, Asia and Brazil.
Hutchinson, said de Montlivault, is in the final stages of purchasing and engineering discussions with two other OEMs, but did not elaborate.
As well as reducing carbon-emissions from vehicles, the light-weight profile also is said to offer aesthetic-design advantages over EPDM.
According to de Montlivault, the thermoplastic profiles can feature end-junctions, flock or grained surfaces and are colorable—a desirable option for OEMs.
Another advantage, according to Hutchinson, is recylability of the profiles manufactured with this technology, something that cannot be achieved with classical EPDM and metal insert parts.
Comparitively, de Montlivault said, the new product is "only marginally" more expensive than EPDM-based products, but the price ultimately is determined by the product's required features.