Leading automotive interiors supplier International Automotive Components (IAC) has launched its FiberFrame™ environmentally-sustainable and lightweight, natural fiber sun roof frame on the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The proprietary innovation is made of 70 percent renewable raw material content and provides up to 50 percent in weight saving compared to conventional metal-reinforced steel sun roof frames. The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class going on sale today marks the mass production debut of IAC’s latest proprietary interior solution.
“Sun and panoramic roofs are increasingly popular across all vehicle sizes and segments,” said IAC Director of Advanced Engineering Fritz Schweindl, located at the company’s Ebersberg, Bavaria, technology center. “This market trend inspired IAC to develop stiff and lightweight concepts, which help realize different fixation concepts on the car body, the sun roof or the panoramic roof module. Within its strategy of viable innovation, IAC leveraged its integrated material and process know-how to provide our OEM customers with significant weight savings, a lower carbon footprint for their vehicles and a more efficient production process.”
IAC’s FiberFrame replaces the sun roof’s metal reinforcement frame with a lighter frame employing strong, natural fibers using a new raw material comprised of 70 percent renewable content. This unique lightweight solution is reinforced using IAC’s EcoMat™ natural fiber-based semi-finished material, which was especially developed for this application. The fiber mat is molded with a thermoset binder and is manufactured in-house by IAC in a hot molding process.
“In the specification of the IAC EcoMat™ fiber mat, as well as in terms of tooling technology and production process of this innovation, we were able to take advantage of more than 20 years of experience working with natural-fiber-reinforced materials in automotive interiors,” said Schweindl. “By manufacturing this product in-house in our headliner plant, we follow our strategy and expansion of vertical integration of our interior systems. Thanks to our global manufacturing footprint and standardized processes, we are now able to adapt IAC FiberFrame to customer needs and supply it around the world.”
The new product has high stiffness for improved structural rigidity and enables up to 50 percent in weight saving compared with conventional steel frames. Compared to conventional thermoplastic frames, FiberFrame also prevents warpage after climate testing. In addition, molding tooling concepts for IAC’s FiberFrame have much shorter lead times than conventional steel molding tools.
FiberFrame started production in November 2015 at IAC’s Center of Excellence for overhead products in Prestice, Czech Republic, to support the Mercedes-Benz E-Class launch. The company also produces the headliner, the outer-rear wheel house liner, inner wheel house cover and rear seat cover for the vehicle.
International Automotive Components (IAC) is a leading global supplier of automotive components and systems, including interior and exterior trim. The company’s 2015 sales were $5.9 billion. Headquartered in Luxembourg, IAC Group operates 85 manufacturing facilities in 20 countries. The company has 105 total locations in 22 countries, including 28 design, technical and commercial centers, and employs more than 32,000 people globally. For more information, visit www.iacgroup.com.