Published on April 11th 2019 in

‘Semi-structural’ composite used in new BMW 3 Series

Plastics manufacturer Trinseo recently highlighted a lightweight glass-fibre-reinforced composite it said still provided enough strength to replace aluminium or magnesium in “semi-structural” automotive roles.

BMW uses the “long-glass-fibre-reinforced acrylonitrile butadiene styrene” (ABS LGF) for an instrument carrier on the next-generation 2019 3 Series, which worked as an alternative to magnesium according to Trinseo.

“Working in co-operation with Tier One supplier Dräxlmaier, we were able to optimise the behaviour of the material in terms of stiffness, warpage, crash and head impact, creating very narrow tolerances and stability of the final component,” wrote Trinseo in a recent news release.

Trinseo also said the substrate delivered both high stability and stiffness and Kunststoff magazine reported that ABS LGF also held up well in temperatures reaching 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degree Celsius) and was up to 30 percent lighter than magnesium.

“With this new ABS LGF alloy product, we have developed a thermoplastic composite that combines high stiffness over a broad temperature range with high dimensional stability, which facilitates lighter weight designs in comparison to aluminium and magnesium,” said Trinseo technology leader Norwin van Riel. “Automotive manufacturers are increasingly looking to reduce vehicle weight without affecting stability. Our new lightweight plastic solution offers an easy processing and lightweight solution.”

Trinseo didn’t directly discuss price, which can be a concern with composites like carbon fibre. However, it did offer this pitch: “As a structural polymer, the ABS LGF composite not only offers lower weight than magnesium, but also low VOC and low odour properties. It also enables faster production cycle times.”

This is yet another sign that repairers are likely to encounter more composites in the near future. It’s also interesting to see a structural composite application that’s not carbon fibre.

Trinseo’s automotive product site speaks of its plastics being used by OEMs “particularly for a functional and aesthetic interior experience,” but it appears they may now be one to watch for components more relevant to collision repairers.


This article courtesy of John Huetter of Repairer Driven Education (RDE). Check out their website at; for this and many other informative and educational articles on the collision repair industry

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