Tepex continuous-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composite materials from LANXESS are being used in a child seat headrest developed as a technology demonstrator offering excellent crash performance.

To say that the safety of a child in a car seat is crucial is an understatement. With that in mind, a multi-national research project was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of the Central Innovation Programme for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) (German acronym: ZIM). Participants in the project also included the Department of Lightweight Structures and Polymer Technology (SLK) at Chemnitz University of Technology, Polycomb GmbH and the Polish child seat manufacturer Avionaut.

The partners used LANXESS’s Tepex dynalite 104-FG290(4)/47% thermoplastic composite materials strengthened with two layers of continuous-glass-fiber rovings produced in a particle-foam composite injection molding (PCIM) process to develop a child seat headrest that is much lighter and offers excellent crash performance. A second tool using particle foam based on expanded polypropylene (EPP) is then used to finish the insert.

“The insert made of Tepex can reduce the weight of the headrest by up to 30 percent in comparison with the commercially produced component variant – and with comparably good crash performance, too. It also simplifies the production process,” said Dr. Klaus Vonberg, an expert in lightweight construction at the Tepex Automotive Group of the High-Performance Materials business unit at LANXESS.

Norbert Schramm, a scientific assistant at the Chemnitz University of Technology and head of the ZIM project explained, “Not only is the new, highly integrated production process more energy-efficient than the previous procedure, it also results directly in the finished component. This reduces the total number of parts from six to one, which also lowers production costs in terms of logistics and the machine expenditure required.”

LANXESS projects that because of the lightweight of Tepex and the new production process there is a great opportunity for use in seat shells for complex seating concepts in autonomous cars as well as in seating for electric vehicles, shuttles, and buses.