International Automotive Components Group (IAC), a global leading supplier to the automobile industry, used BASF’s Acrodur® 950 L binder to develop the world’s first automotive roof frame, dubbed the “FiberFrame,” that is entirely made of natural fiber.

BASF says its Acrodur binders are used to strengthen natural fiber mats that are processed into molded parts. Acrodur is environmentally compatible and ensures simple and unproblematic processing, assembly and molding of semi-finished products with custom-tailored properties.

According to BASF, the water-based and low-emission binder gives the frame the necessary loading capacity and heat resistance it needs to be effective. This serves as an alternative to phenolic resins and strengthens the natural fibers in the frame. The result is an environmentally compatible, dimensionally stable and, above all, lightweight frame that is now being used for the first time in the new E-class of Mercedes-Benz. As of April 2016, cars fitted with the roof frame are available at European dealers.

“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.

According to Fritz Schweindl, Director Advanced Engineering at IAC, it was easy to integrate the BASF binder into IAC’s 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,” Schweindl said. “Furthermore, the product is low in emissions, which means that it is safer to work with.”