CORBETTA, Italy—A lightweight urethane developed by global automotive supplier Marelli Europe S.p.A. has received a 2023 Enlighten Award from software company Altair Engineering Inc. and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR).

Marelli has developed a new lightweight polyurethane foam that can be applied to all foam-in-place (FIP) applications, particularly the main dashboard panel. Compared with existing foams, the new material reduces weight by 40 percent, decreases foam thickness by 50 percent (to support styling aesthetics), and reduces raw material costs by 20 percent.

The new foam also reduces the environmental impact of automotive production, through its reduced material usage per part, lower density, and 80 percent reduction in volatile organic compounds.

The new foam meets and often exceeds customer specifications for high-quality feel and appearance of interiors. FIP technology is an automotive interior staple for efficiently achieving a soft feel in primary touch surface parts, such as the main dash panel, door panels, and the center console armrest. This achievement is the result of a joint development with materials partner Covestro. 

Marelli will deploy this new foam with a special focus on the main dash panel, which carries the instrument cluster, infotainment system and glove box. The new foam will not require changes to the shop floor and will immediately provide a lighter-weight product.

Created in 2013 to acknowledge innovations in vehicle lightweighting, the Altair Enlighten Award honors the world’s greatest achievements in sustainability and lightweighting.