SPE automotive award-winners named at annual gala

The Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers named the winners of its 41st-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition on Nov. 9 at its annual gala in Detroit, Mich.

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The Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE, Troy, Mich., USA) on Nov. 9 announced the winners of its 41st-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition, the oldest and largest recognition event in the automotive and plastics industries.

Winners survived a pre-qualification round, as well as presentations before a panel of industry experts on Sept. 29-30; finalists from that round presented again on Oct. 10 before a Blue Ribbon panel of judges where category and Grand Award winners were selected. TheProcess/Assembly / Enabling Technologies category winner was also selected as the event’s Grand Award winner for the Most Innovative Use of Automotive Plastics in 2011.

CATEGORY: Body Exterior

  • RAM BOX ASSEMBLY WITH LID
  • OEM Make & Model: Chrysler Group LLC 2012 MY Dodge Ram pickup
  • Tier Supplier/Processor: Penda Corp./Penda Corp. (lid), Evco Plastics (bin), River Bend
  • Industries (end caps)
  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Asahi Kasei Plastics North America Inc./Cavalier Tool &
  • Mfg. Ltd. (injection-molded bin); Tooling Technology LLC (thermoformed lid)
  • Material/Process: Thermylene P8-40FG-4611 (box), P6-15FG-0741 (lid); P6-15FG-0754 (end caps) PP/Twin-sheet thermoforming
  • Description: Twin-sheet thermoforming replaces blowmolding to create the structure and ribbing of this tough storage box with lid. The result is a more uniform, more dimensionally accurate part whose length was increased from 5 ft 7 in. to 6 ft 4 in., requiring greater emphasis on the "heavy-duty" nature of the structure’s design and materials of construction. A special new grade of GR-PP eliminated the need to upgrade to heavier and more costly PA 6/6, avoiding a 9 percent weight and 20 percent cost increase.

CATEGORY: Body Interior

  • OVERMOLD-CUSHION SUSPENSION
  • OEM Make & Model: Ford Motor Co. 2012 MY Ford Escape SUV & Kuga CUV
  • Tier Supplier/Processor: Flex-O-Lators Div. of Leggett & Platt Inc.
  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Washington Penn/Advanced Mold Engineering Inc.
  • Material/Process: PPC5UF0 PP/Injection molding
  • Description: The injection-molded PP design reduces part count from 5 to 1/seat, piece cost $0.56 USD per seat, tooling costs $288,000 USD, and per-vehicle mass by 1.93 kg vs. the previous design. The single-piece design provides wire harness routing and retention, seat- cushion and back-trim retention, and climate-control system retention – functionality that previously required 6 parts to achieve. Now there are 5 fewer parts to manage, control, and install and fewer opportunities for potential failure modes.

CATEGORY: Chassis/Hardware

  • POWER-WINDOW MOTOR OUTPUT GEAR & SHAFT
  • OEM Make & Model: Ford Motor Co. 2011 MY Ford All Focus compact cars (globally)
  • Tier Supplier/Processor: Brose Fahrzeugteile GmbH & Co. KG/Mitsuba Corp.
  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: DuPont Automotive/Camoplast Inc.
  • Material/Process: Hytrel TPC-ET polyester/Injection molding
  • Description: This power-window motor changed from a steel output pinion to a new injection-molded polyester one for a quieter/lighter motor to meet customer targets while still complying with window velocities. It is industry’s first plastic output pinion that ensures functionality. Additionally, the design allows for regulator plug-‘n-play capability into the power drum for better motion control. Packaging of the involute onto the spline gear to the accommodating drum spline was critical to the customer. The application saved $450,000 USD direct and $250,000 indirect cost savings annually.

CATEGORY: Environmental

  • RENEWABLY SOURCED PA FOR BIODIESEL FUEL LINES
  • OEM Make & Model: Fiat SpA 2011 MY Fiat Diesel engines, various models
  • Tier Supplier/Processor: Hutchinson
  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: DuPont Automotive/Not Stated
  • Material/Process: Zytel RS 1610 PA 10/10/Extrusion
  • Description: This is the first automotive use of PA 10/10 and the first bio-based PA 10/10 application. It is used in a diesel fuel line replacing PA 12. The bio-based resin provides superior temperature and chemical resistance, as well as heat-aging performance in biodiesel fuel blends vs. PA 12. This specific composition also contains a minimum of 60 percent bio content by weight for a more sustainable solution.

CATEGORY: Materials

  • VOLCANIC-FILLER PILLAR TRIM
  • OEM Make & Model: Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group 2011 MY Kia Pride subcompact & Optima mid-size sedan and Hyundai Elantra compact car
  • Tier Supplier/Processor: Plakor Co. Ltd.
  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Hyundai EP Co. Ltd./Not Stated
  • Material/Process: Supol HL345CL PP/Injection molding
  • Description: This lightweight, injection-molded PP pillar trim provides the texture and appearance of more costly fabric-wrapped trim through use of a unique filler combination consisting of volcanic rock, fiber pile, and glass spheres replacing talc-filled PP and fabric- wrapped PP. No special tooling was required but process control was important so as not to crush the glass spheres and to distribute the fiber pile evenly during compounding and molding. A 10 percent weight and a 50 percent direct cost savings was achieved. Other benefits gained from using the volcanic mineral are that it emits negative ions (to reduce pollutants) and far-infrared energy.

CATEGORY: Powertrain

  • BATTERY PACK
  • OEM Make & Model: General Motors Co. 2011 MY Chevrolet Volt extended-range EV
  • Tier Supplier/Processor: General Motors Co./MANN+HUMMEL GmbH
  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: BASF Corp./Omega Corp.
  • Material/Process: Ultramid 1503-2F PA 6/6 33 percent GF, HS/Injection molding
  • Description: Thermoplastic battery frames are an integral part of electric-vehicle thermal management, channeling coolant to and from the cells. The use of injection-molded hydrolysis-resistant PA 6/6 for thermal cycling management is a lightweight enabling material for this design, which required exacting manufacturing consistency and high levels of repeatability and reproducibility.

GRAND AWARD & CATEGORY: Process/Assembly/Enabling Technologies

  • MUCELL INSTRUMENT PANEL
  • OEM Make & Model: Ford Motor Co. 2012 MY Ford Escape compact SUV & Kugacompact CUV
  • Tier Supplier/Processor: Faurecia
  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: SABIC Innovative Plastics & Flint Hills Resources/Lamko
  • Material/Process: Stamax EXRP-49 30YK270 & AP3335-HF long glass/30 percent talc-filled PP/Microcellular injection molding
  • Description: This is the largest automotive component molded in the patented MuCell injection-molding process and the first instrument panel to be molded in this process. By creating the part in microcellular foam, weight is reduced by more than 1 lb, mechanicals are improved, cycle time is reduced 15 percent, and clamp tonnage is reduced 45 percent, saving an estimated $3 USD/vehicle vs. solid injection molding.

CATEGORY: Safety

  • REINFORCED AIRBAG LID IN FOAM (RALF)
  • OEM Make & Model: Ford Motor Co. 2011 MY Ford Focus compact car
  • Tier Supplier/Processor: Faurecia Interior Systems
  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Not stated/Not stated
  • Material/Process: PET & PUR/Not stated
  • Description: RALF technology is an optimized instrument panel/passenger airbag door system that uses a reinforced structural 3-D-skeleton of PET mesh textile and polyurethane foam lid. RALF replaces the traditional metal or plastic airbag lid door and offers much improved airbag lid positioning with less risk of windshield breakage. It offers significant weight savings over traditional foam-in-place airbag construction and is cost-neutral.