SPE announces 2016 automotive hall of fame winner

The first use of polycarbonate to injection mold a hard (painted) instrument panel, featured on the 1977 Econoline van from Ford Motor Co. is the 2016 hall of fame winner.

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The first use of polycarbonate (PC) to injection mold a hard (painted) instrument panel (IP), featured on the 1977 Econoline van from Ford Motor Co., has been named the 2016 Hall of Fame winner by the Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers(SPE) for the group's 46th-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition & Gala.

To be considered for a Hall of Fame award, an automotive plastic or composite component must have been in continuous service in some form for at least 15 years and preferably have been broadly adopted within the automotive or ground-transportation industries. This application certainly qualifies, as PC and PC blends have been used to injection mold IP retainers, uppers, upper trim, lowers, and lower trim for both hard (painted) and soft (skin & foam) IP systems for the last 39 years. The application has proliferated from its first use on commercial vans to high-volume full-size pickups and a number of passenger cars and sport- utility vehicles (SUVs). To date an estimated 200-million IPs using 2-billion pounds/907,185 tonnes of PC or PC blends have been produced globally in the passenger vehicle market. Several IP design variants have been category or Grand Award winners in past SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Competitions.

Interestingly, the original PC IP was molded in a tool that already had been cut for and was running acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) resin. Ford's then Saline plant, which molded and assembled the IP for the Econoline van was able to make a running change because both resins had similar shrinkage values in the tool.

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, Desi Ujkashevic, global director, Interior Engineering at Ford Motor Co. will accept the award on behalf of the original team that worked on the first PC IP on the Econoline van program at the 46th-annual SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Gala at Burton Manor in Livonia, Mich., where winning part nominations and the teams that developed them will be honored during an evening celebrating automotive plastics innovation. Additionally, representatives from material supplier, SABIC (formerly GE Plastics) and the Saline plant where the first PC IP was produced and assembled by Ford also will be honored at the event.