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Driving sustainable change with UPM’s Biofore Concept Car

By Steve Katz, Editor | May 6, 2014

The concept car project aims to show how using alternative materials can significantly improve the overall environmental performance of car manufacturing.

UPM, the parent company of labelstock supplier UPM Raflatac, has partnered with Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences to develop the Biofore Concept Car. The car showcases the use of UPM’s biomaterials in the automotive industry, labels included.

With the Biofore Concept Car, the majority of car parts that are traditionally made from plastics are replaced with high quality, safe and durable biomaterials from UPM Formi and UPM Grada. The concept car project aims to show how using alternative materials can significantly improve the overall environmental performance of car manufacturing. Parts made from UPM Grada thermoformable wood material are the passenger compartment floor, center console, display panel cover and door panels. Grada technology revitalizes the forming of wood with heat and pressure, and opens up new opportunities for designs not achievable with traditional methods. UPM Grada’s distinct forming properties enable high quality ecological designs that are also visually appealing.

Parts made of UPM Formi bio-composite include the front mask, side skirts, dashboard, door panels and interior panels. UPM Formi is a durable, high quality bio-composite for injection molding, extrusion and thermoforming production. Consisting of renewable fibers and plastic, the material is non-toxic, odorless and uniform in quality, making UPM Formi ideal for both industrial and consumer applications.

“The Biofore Concept Car showcases the potential of UPM’s biomaterials. Not only for the automotive industry, but also for various other end-uses including design, acoustics and a wide range of industrial and consumer applications. The possibilities are endless," says Elisa Nilsson, vice president of Brand and Communications at UPM. 

Automotive labels
Self-adhesive labels are used by the automotive industry for a range of applications, including the labeling of tires, engines, batteries, windshields and more. Labels are also used in the identification of assembly and components (after they are installed in the car). In addition, as a security device, labels can play a key role in brand protection and ensuring that the parts used in the car manufacturing process are not counterfeit.

UPM Grada wood material is used in the floor, center and display consoles.
“Automotive labels need to be durable and endure harsh environmental conditions. These labels must, for example, endure temperature changes, be resistant to oil, chemicals and car fluids and be able to stick to oily surfaces.  Self-adhesive labels made from polyester are well-suited for these applications. Typically, these labels contain product and warning information, model identification and serial numbers to ensure security, and they must be clearly visible and readable throughout the product life cycle,” explains Asta Halme, communications flow and energy communications at UPM.

UPM Raflatac’s self-adhesive label materials are used in the Biofore Concept Car to mark parts (on the engine, tires and windshield) as well as in the interior and exterior design of the car. The labels have been manufactured by using the latest adhesive technology and solvent-free production processes, as sustainability is one of the key drivers in UPM Raflatac’s product development.

“Sustainability is a major subject globally. We were excited to be able to design and build a vehicle that would demonstrate that already today we have biomaterials that are a real alternative to traditional oil-based materials. During the past four years of building the Biofore Concept Car, our students have come to see that these biomaterials are of high quality, durable and also offer new design opportunities,” says Pekka Hautala, project director from Metropolia.      

“According to our Biofore strategy, we create value from a renewable raw material – wood from responsibly managed forests – and strive for a more resource-efficient future. The Biofore Concept Car is a fine manifestation of this. We are proud of the cooperation with Metropolia’s automotive engineering and industrial design students, and what we have achieved together,” Nilsson concludes.

The Biofore Concept Car runs on UPM’s wood-based renewable diesel UPM BioVerno, which is formulated to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels. UPM BioVerno is suitable for all diesel engines, including the 1.2 liter low-emission diesel engine featured in the Biofore Concept Car. The car is approximately 150 kilograms (330 pounds) lighter than its conventional car equivalents, resulting in lower fuel consumption.

The Biofore Concept Car debuted at the Geneva International Motor Show in March.

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