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This prototype all-plastic SUV tailgate designed by SABIC Innovative Plastics saves nearly 28 lb. compared to a similar tailgate made from metal materials.

All-Plastic Tailgate Reduces Mass 30%

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An all-plastic tailgate designed and fabricated by SABIC Innovative Plastics (sabic-ip.com) weighs nearly 28 lb. (12.5 kg) less than a similarly sized tailgate made from metal. This, according to Scott Fallon, general manager for automotive plastics at SABIC, represents a 30% weight save. He acknowledges, however, “The all-plastic tailgate is a unique design because a lot of other designs have been retrofitted from metal to plastic, and we designed in plastics from the beginning.” Fallon claims that this is the first tailgate that is completely plastic. He cites, for example, the plastic tailgate on the Nissan Rogue, but points out, “It doesn’t have a back light that is also plastic. From the glazing down, our tailgate is completely done in plastic,” Fallon says. This all-plastic solution not only provides double-digit weight savings, but also saves assembly time and potentially cost through part consolidation, he adds. 

“We see a lot of opportunity to replace glass with poly-carbonate,” Fallon says. “We had to develop a proprietary technology to get the surface of polycarbonate to be as resistant to scratch and weather as glass.”

For the 2013 Volkswagen XL1 diesel plug-in hybrid, SABIC used a two-shot injection-molded solution with the company’s EXATEC plasma coating technology to make the side windows. This glazing provides a 33% weight save compared to conventional glass.

“We started replacing glass with glazing in roof applications and rear-quarter windows, and have been expanding from there,” Fallon says. Depending on the application, plastic provides weight savings between 30 and 50% compared to traditional glass, he says.—ZP