It's What's Inside That Counts: The Benefits Of Choosing Santoprene For Fabricating Vehicle Interior Trim

Even the most spartan and utilitarian of vehicles are fitted with interior trim as standard, if only to cover up potentially dangerous components such as steering columns and airbags, and whether you manufacture pieces of interior trim for heavy goods vehicles, luxury cars or rough-and-ready utes, you need to ensure that the materials you use to make your trim are up to the task. 

Santoprene is extremely widely used in the interior trim manufacturing industry, and for good reason; this unique plastic (technically a thermoplastic vulcanisate, or TPV) has a number of unusual properties that make it ideally suited to many interior trim applications. Here are just a few of the most important attributes.

Strength and durability

Santoprene is an incredibly durable plastic and is capable of shrugging off heavy impacts that would cause other commonly used trim materials (such as EPDM) to crack or shatter. It is also highly heat-resistant, flame retardant, does not discolour when expose to harsh chemicals and is especially resistant to degradation caused by exposure to UV light. Interior trim pieces made from Santoprene can, therefore, be expected to last for years or decades without requiring replacement.

Excellent strength-to-weight ratio

Santoprene is remarkably light considering its structural strength. This makes fitting finished trim pieces easier, and can also have a dramatic effect on the overall weight of finished vehicles. As such, Santoprene is particularly useful for creating interior trim for high-performance vehicles, where every extra gram added by the trim counts.

Easily processed

Like many thermoplastics, Santoprene is very easy to mould into the shapes and designs you require and can be processed using both extrusion and injection moulding methods. Loss of strength caused by repeated heating and cooling is negligible, allowing manufacturing faults to be caught early and repaired easily.

Easily coloured

With vehicle manufacturers offering a dizzying array of different trim levels and designs for their vehicles, you will want to ensure that your trim pieces can be manufactured in a wide variety of colours and shades; an area in which Santoprene excels. It can be coloured to practically any shade or hue you require, and will not become discoloured during final moulding and/or extrusion.

'Soft-touch' varieties available

Some varieties of Santoprene are 'soft touch' plastics, designed to be more pleasant to touch than cold, hard generic plastics. The slightly-textured surface of soft-touch Santoprene makes trim pieces more comfortable and inviting to touch, and is less likely to become 'sticky' at high temperatures. Soft-touch Santoprene is especially useful for creating steering wheel covers, gearsticks and other frequently-touched pieces of interior trim. 

For more information on tpv & tpe, contact your local manufacturer.