Technological watch

Pöppelmann converts post-consumer plastic into parts for electric vehicles

Friedrichshafen, Germany — German molder Pöppelmann GmbH & Co. KG has already embraced more sustainability, first launching its "Pöppelmann Blue" project at Fakuma 2018, with flowerpots thermoformed using post-consumer packaging waste.

Now it has turned to using that same post-consumer stream to make parts for cars with their own sustainable angle, electric vehicles.

At Fakuma 2021 in Friedrichshafen, the the Lohne, Germany-based company showed off a support structure for EV sound generators.

The "SAM" generators produce sounds that can be heard both inside and outside the car to help ensure that pedestrians, cyclists and others can hear the presence of an otherwise silent EV.

Pöppelmann has more than 600 injection molding machines and extensive thermoforming facilities. Its K-Tech technical parts business unit makes the structural parts using 30 percent glass-fiber-reinforced polypropylene derived from the same post-consumer source that it used for the flower pots back in 2018.

Pöppelmann says this demonstrates how a true circular economy can be realized in series for demanding industries such as the automotive industry, thereby "supporting customers in this sector in achieving their own sustainability goals."

Under the slogan of "reduce, reuse, recycle," the company strives towards becoming part of a CO2-neutral supply chain by always using eco-design principles when developing products, through minimizing material use and by producing products based on post-consumer or post-industrial resin.

In the case of the "SAM" sound generator holder, the Mucell microcellular physical foaming process from Gummersbach, Germany-based Trexel GmbH was chosen to save weight and reduce the amount of plastic, with improved dimensional stability an additional advantage.

Aside from Mucell, Pöppelmann also uses the ProFoam process developed by Arburg GmbH + Co. KG and the IKV plastics processing institute at RWTH University in Aachen, Germany

Produced since the end of 2020, the part has used 320 tonnes post-consumer PP from salad cups, saving 560 metric tons of CO2 compared to using virgin resin.

Pöppelman's K-Tech division has more than 100 serial production applications involving recyclate use, including crash blocks that protect car batteries. Another part, displayed on the Fakuma booth, is a "SAM" holder footrest that accommodates a control unit. This is a highly integrated part molded with extensive ribs to enhance rigidity and produced in the Mucell foam process. Using post-industrial resin and Mucell foaming cut CO2 equivalent per product emission from 0.45 kilograms for virgin granulate to 0.19 kg for recycled granulate.

Publication date: 03/11/2021

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This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2020-07-14