Demand for lightweighting driving foam ubiquity in automotive

  • Foam continues to find broad application in vehicles
  • The global automotive foams market has boomed in recent years
  • Foam Expo Conference 2019 will explore shifts in requirements for foam performance and examine end markets

AerospacePolyurethane foam is ubiquitous in the automotive industry. Used in applications from car seats to vehicle spoilers, the material plays a crucial role in the build of modern vehicles.

By 2019, the global automotive foams market is projected to be worth $40.83 billion. Increased demand for lightweight vehicles coupled with growing demand in developing countries is driving this expansion and creating significant opportunities for industry players.

Foam offers measurable benefits not only in terms of comfort – helping to reduce the physical stress of driving – but also for heat and noise reduction and weight reduction. Polyurethanes are strong and light, making them ideal for contributing to lightweighting in vehicles – a hot topic given the recent tightening of regulations on emissions. Vehicle manufacturers are tasked with cutting CO2 emissions, and replacing traditional heavy materials with lighter materials to improve fuel economy is an obvious place to start.

The automotive industry has spent recent years innovating and responding to demands for higher-spec vehicles. Modern cars utilise polyurethanes in bumpers and energy absorbers, both of which absorb most of the shock in the event of a collision and make modern vehicles safer to drive. The material is also found in car coatings, offering durability and resistance to scratches and corrosion. Closed-cell foams are used for sealing, while high-performance foams find use in under-bonnet applications. Other innovative foams reduce the negative effects of that ‘new car smell’. In vehicle interiors, foams deliver soft, comfortable, ergonomic seating that cradles passengers and makes for a more enjoyable journey.

Foam performance requirements in vehicles will be a key topic at this year’s Foam Expo Conference in Novi, Michigan, USA. Taking place on March 26-28, the third annual conference will welcome industry-leading speakers for three days of in-depth industry discussions on the application, utilisation, and innovation of foam materials.

Relevant to the automotive industry are sessions on examining foam performance for noise vibration harshness mitigation in on- and off-road and electric vehicles and a keynote address that will examine the potential for foams in lightweighting efforts. The expo will also cover foam testing, structural foams, and how industry players are working to make the material as safe and durable as possible.