Electric Car Quickens the Pulse With Color

Natural ABS formulation enables improved color consistency, operational efficiency

The Challenge

After grabbing more than 8% of the market within six months of the release of its flagship vehicle, the engineers at a game-changing electric car manufacturer went back to work fine-tuning the details.

They focused in on color mismatches of molded interior trim parts that were causing production delays. Making matters worse, the pre-colored PC/ABS material used to mold the parts required up to 10 weeks for delivery, further hampering operational efficiency and increasing inventory costs.

The carmaker needed a material solution that would shorten lead times while fine-tuning color harmony in the molded interior parts. 

In addition to color uniformity, engineers also wanted a balance of stiffness, impact resistance and heat resistance. And there was an aesthetic target: the new material needed to deliver tactile qualities consistent with the car’s luxury price tag. 

The Solution

The carmaker’s design engineers brought in Avient to look at possible new approaches. Liking what they heard, the engineers decided to team up with Avient specialists in polymer distribution, colorants and additives to tackle the issue.

Working together, the team developed a natural ABS formulation with an additive package that provided consistent color along with heat-stabilizing properties. They also provided technical support in molding operations to assure fast, high-quality output. 

The pre-formulated material boasted one more important property: it was available for just-in-time delivery.

The Impact

The immediate result of the new ABS material was elimination of the automaker’s color consistency issues. In addition, the natural-plus-additive concentrate package:

  • Eliminated supply chain delays and excess inventory
  • Reduced material costs for the affected parts by 16 percent
  • Improved surface finish of molded parts
  • Reduced scrap rates
  • Increased throughput of molding operations

These improvements freed working capital for other projects, and helped keep production running at a consistent rate for annual savings estimated by the company at more than $200,000 a year.