Kraton: First commercial automotive application of IMSS technology

Kraton Corporation, a leading global producer of specialty polymers and high-value biobased products derived from pine wood pulping co-products, announces the first commercial application of IMSS technology in an automotive application.

SAICGM (a joint venture between General Motors Company and SAIC Motor Corporation Limited) officially released the 2021 Buick GL6 model’s newly engineered interior in late November 2020 in the Chinese market. Innovative interior design highlights this model, including the instrument panel skin, manufactured utilizing Kraton Corporation’s IMSS technology (Injection Molded Soft-Skin). The GL6 is the first mass-produced car in the world to use this new material.

IMSS technology is enabled by Kraton’s innovative, ultra-high flow thermoplastic elastomers, belonging to the Hydrogenated Styrenic Block Copolymers (HSBC) family. Unlike the traditional PVC soft skins, HSBC-based soft skins allow injection molding of large, thin-walled soft skin parts, such as instrument panel skins. They provide lower odor, fogging, VOCs, better aging, subsequently improved safety performance, and lower specific gravity. They contain no added plasticizer, phthalates, or cross-linking agents.

The IMSS compound used to manufacture the Buick GL6 instrument panel soft skin is supplied by Dawn New Materials Co. Ltd. in China. This innovative IMSS compound was developed by Dawn, working in close cooperation with Kraton as a technology transfer licensee of the IMSS technology. Kraton has also established technology licenses with several other premier compounders worldwide to make this technology available to all automobile manufacturers as its adoption builds in the industry.

Since being presented to the automotive industry, this technology has received positive attention and recognition. On 10 June 2020, Kraton IMSS Technology received a Ringier Technology Innovation Award – Plastics Industry in the Raw Material & Additives category. Kraton’s IMSS technology was also recognized by The European Rubber Journal’s (ERJ) in the Elastomers for Sustainability (ES4) contest as a viable alternative to slush-molded PVC in automotive instrument panel skin applications.