JONATHAN M. MCKAY, PH.D.., RESEARCH SCIENTIST, ASHLAND COMPOSITES
Sheet molding compound (SMC) has been ubiquitous in the automotive industry for decades. Some auto manufacturers have found that SMC is the material of choice for rigorous applications such as a pickup truck bed. The ability to mold a complex truck bed in one piece instead of many metal parts can reduce both operational complexity and the cost of assembly. The potential for weight reduction relative to metal in such a large part also presents a tantalizing opportunity to the manufacturer.
Any truck bed must deliver a unique combination of high mechanical strength, resistance to weathering, and durability to marring under a very wide range of consumer uses. SMC suitable for such applications is typically painted to meet the outdoor weathering requirements. However, these coatings are not scratch-resistant to the degree needed and can eventually show significant wear when the coating is compromised under normal use conditions. Moreover, painting the truck bed adds cost and environmental impact to this part.
Herein we report an unpainted SMC with properties suitable for a truck bed application. Besides good weatherability without need of painting, the mechanical properties, fiber reinforcement, and accelerated weathering performance will be discussed.
Jonathan was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. He received his B.A. degree in chemistry from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in 2002, conducting research with Professor SonBinh Nguyen in the area of organometallic catalysis. His chemical education continued under Professor Steven Zimmerman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research covered several topics, including the synthesis and application of dendrimer-modified fluorophores. After receiving his Ph.D. in 2007, he began his industrial career for Hercules, Inc., developing technologies for use in the pulp and paper industry, with an especial emphasis on improving dry strength and drainage within packaging grades of paper. Since 2013 he has worked for Ashland’s Composite Polymers group, developing and formulating resins for use in the marine and transportation industries. Much of that time he has devoted to understanding and developing unpainted weatherable SMC for the automotive industry.