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DSM in Automotive

Looking in the mirror: Beauty and strength

Exterior rearview mirrors are important to driver safety. They need to be easy-to-use, able to provide stability in all conditions at all speeds – and of course, aesthetically pleasing. By using our unique thermoplastics – Akulon® , Arnite® , and Stanyl® - customers are now able to consolidate the number of separate parts in the rearview mirror, reducing weight and costs with no compromise on safety and performance.

Increasingly, our plastics are being used not just for structural components (like mirror bases, brackets and housings), but also for the actuator systems that adjust the mirror itself.

Of course, as an exterior component, aesthetics of the rearview mirror are an important factor. Any materials used in the visible components of a mirror system must deliver the right surface quality, either in a textured or in a high gloss part.

The painting stage in the production of automotive components is very costly, and has a negative effect on the environment, especially when solvent-borne paints are used. As a result, car makers aim to eliminate paint wherever possible. This trend is supported by DSM, which has made important progress in developing high-strength materials with improved resistance to UV radiation and with high levels of aesthetics.

In the case of unpainted parts the right color in combination with the desired UV stability is one of the challenges – and this is another area where our thermoplastics hold the advantage – both looking and performing well for the driver.

One very exciting opportunity provided by our material solutions is that of component consolidation – in other words, combining structural and aesthetic parts into a single, plastic piece (rather than fitting a cast-aluminum mirror base to an ASA cover, for example).

This we are able to achieve with thermoplastics, reducing system costs – and weight – while still providing you with a material that delivers stability and stiffness at high speeds. For example, some of our Arnite polyesters and Akulon polyamides have high glass fiber concentrations of up- to 60%.