Behind the innovations: ANTOLIN


AMM – What was the motivation to start developing this product?

Enrique Fernández Salvador _ Tech. Acquisition & Customer Liaison Director in Antolin Headliners Business Unit –

The company works intensively with its supply chain to become a business benchmark for its respect for the environment, contributing to the fight against climate change and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy, thanks to an offer of products with added environmental value. Antolin, a global supplier of technological solutions for car interiors, demonstrates its firm commitment to sustainability and the decarbonisation of mobility with this sustainable roof project for car interiors.

In particular, for Antolin, the eco-design parameters used in this project have been

implemented as design standards for other programmes globally. The materials used are already being used in other Antolin plants and help us to meet the company’s strategic sustainability objectives.

For our client, we managed to provide a product that meets the most rigorous automotive standards, standing out for its relevant content in sustainable materials and a notable reduction in the carbon footprint (-60%) compared to the previous model. In addition to contributing to the reduction of the carbon footprint, the integration of sustainable materials gives the customer the possibility to use this development as a strong selling point when marketing their vehicles to an increasingly environmentally conscious public.

In the eco-design phase, we have used exceptionally lightweight cellular materials, achieving weight reduction and designing the parts in a way that maximises the properties of the final product.

Throughout the development of the project, we have carefully considered the process of dismantling the parts at the end of the vehicle’s useful life, facilitating their reuse or recovery for a second life.

Finally, both Antolin and the suppliers involved in the project have prioritised the use of green energy in their production processes, contributing significantly to the reduction of the carbon footprint associated with the final product.

AMM – Can you tell us what the product development process was like, any anecdotes or stones that got in the way?

ANTOLIN – First, through eco-design, we achieved a smarter use of materials and increased the use of renewable resources (thus reducing the consumption of fossil resources). We are recycling post-consumer plastics into automotive parts, which prevents them from ending up in the natural environment.

The project also includes reusing the final waste from the production process and transforming it into a technical construction product, which is called Coretech, which is an example of cross-sectoral cooperation and circularity of the solution.

One of the most important points of the project has been to introduce sustainable materials that ensure the productivity of our customers and that of Antolin, and that are perfectly compatible with current production methods, complying with strict tests and validations of automotive products.

AMM – What is the technology behind this innovation?

ANTOLIN – The aim of the project is to manufacture and market a roof for the interior of a vehicle, specifically for the Volkswagen T-Roc, with materials of recycled origin and sustainable materials obtained from organic waste. This increases the sustainable content of the product while reducing its carbon footprint.
On the other hand, the reuse of waste generated during the production of the roof is used for the production of building materials, resulting in additional savings in the carbon footprint and a clear example of circular economy.
For the core of the roof substrate, a process has been developed whereby raw materials of fossil origin (petrochemicals) have been replaced by bionaphtha or biomethane derived from organic waste (used oils and vegetable waste). Antolin is a pioneer in the use of these certified materials in the interior of the car, which is also a significant milestone in the company’s firm commitment to sustainability.

In addition, the fabric used to cover the roof substrate has been manufactured in the Iberian Peninsula with polyester yarns from recycled PET bottles.
Only electricity from renewable sources has been used in the manufacturing process of the fabric and the roof substrate.

AMM – What are the main advantages offered by this innovative product, what needs does it cover and how can it improve the life of companies?

ANTOLIN – A more sustainable use of resources, the reduction in the consumption of fossil-based materials and the incorporation of materials with a lower environmental impact in the components promotes the circular economy as a key pillar of Antolin’s business model, which is accompanying vehicle manufacturers in achieving their sustainable objectives. In this way, efforts are being made to contribute to the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda, specifically Sustainable Development Goals #9, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 17.

Furthermore, working with these sustainable materials allows us to offer a product that meets the most demanding standards defined by the automotive industry and to satisfy the demand for environmentally friendly vehicle interiors, a fact that is increasingly valued by end consumers in their purchasing decision.

Finally, reusing the waste generated in our process in a construction product (technical boards) has an important positive impact and helps to achieve a more circular product. In addition, such a product has, among other qualities, thermal and acoustic insulation properties, which in turn helps to reduce the energy consumption of the buildings where it is applied.

Applications for such technical boards include housing and school construction in developing countries.

AMM – Which industries is the innovation mainly aimed at?

ANTOLIN- It is clearly focused on the automotive industry, where we want to make the use of sustainable materials to reduce the carbon footprint an increasingly everyday solution, not just a fad. Reducing the carbon footprint of our activities is not just a goal; it is a necessity.

AMM- What are the main obstacles faced by a company that wants to develop an innovative product?

ANTOLIN- The main challenge is to overcome resistance to change in entrenched and mature processes by encouraging and involving all the companies involved. The lack of global standards for sustainability also complicates the effective implementation of solutions.

Another obstacle is the ever-shortening development timelines, which means that some companies are reluctant to take certain risks with innovative products. Overcoming these obstacles requires a combination of visionary leadership, financial incentives and industry collaboration to drive the transformation towards more sustainable vehicles.

On the other hand, we need to be aware that the long-term commitment to sustainability has a cost that must be borne as an industry and as an end-customer.

In short, obstacles have to be overcome with teamwork because environmental challenges affect us all in the same way. Antolin has set out, at its level, to lead the sustainable revolution. For us, obstacles overcome means a transformed future.

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