Delphi Corporation has created a new skin for instrument panels, consoles and other vehicle interior surfaces, using breakthrough design and process technology", according to a company statement.

The so-called 'slush cast thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) skin' is claimed to give vehicle cabins a luxurious look and feel at a substantially lower cost than traditional sprayed urethane technology.

Slush cast TPO skin is the newest addition to the supplier's interior skin offerings and is said to be the best method for vehicles with complex styling features.

In 1997, Delphi introduced TPO in extruded-sheet form for use in the thermoforming process of instrument panel skins. Now it has developed a powdered form of TPO that can be used in a slush moulding process.

Delphi said that TPO offers benefits beyond those of traditional polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is highly recyclable and can be moulded to colour, which eliminates the need for painting, and its pliability prevents cracking and splintering in the skin when an airbag deploys in cold weather.

Coupled with its ability to produce seamless tear seams, TPO is compatible with the supplier's hidden airbag door technology.

During the slush moulding process, TPO is added to a heated mould in a powdered form. As the mould is rotated, the TPO melts and fuses to form the skin. The result is claimed "unmatched" styling flexibility such as tight radii, undercuts and multiple grains, and easy skin enhancements like stitching, lettering, logos and grain definition. The overall surface is said to feel better, has lower gloss and is more resistant to scratch and mar.

Delphi thermal & interior director of engineering, James Giardino, said that, to the company's best knowledge, there is only one other slush cast TPO product on the market today and it is significantly higher in cost and requires painting.

The new product is scheduled to make its debut on a major 2008 model year North American sport utility vehicle.