SPE Automotive Innovation Awards

The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Automotive Div. (Troy, Mich.) hosted the 40th Annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition and Gala on Nov. 9 in the Detroit suburb of Livonia.

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The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Automotive Div. (Troy, Mich.) hosted the 40th Annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition and Gala on Nov. 9 in the Detroit suburb of Livonia. Winners and finalists in this competition highlighted current and emerging design, materials, tooling and processing trends in categories covering body exterior, interior, hardware, safety, powertrain, performance and others.

Composite products were among those honored. In the Body Interior category, the winner was a self-reinforced airbag door system (photo, right) on the 2007 PST Citroën C5 Sedan, manufactured by Visteon Corp. (Van Buren Township, Mich.). This is the auto industry’s first airbag door system that integrates a self-reinforced polymer construction (polypropylene fiber-reinforced polypropylene), which is supplied by LyondellBasell (Auburn Hills, Mich.) and Propex Fabrics (Gronau, Germany). The door system is fully recyclable and does not require typical postmold scoring/weakening of the door flap. The mold required a multizone temperature control system and a vacuum holding system to fix the fabric insert in place during the molding process. The program also required development of a specialized fiber-reinforced material to facilitate overmolding and subsequent adhesion. The resulting system is lighter than competing systems and saves approximately $5 per part as compared to welded systems.

In the Chassis/Hardware category, Hyundai won for its integrated carrier rail for the rear plastic door module (photo, right) on its 2010 Sonata. The rail is produced via injection molding by PYEONG HWA Automotive (Daegu, South Korea) using Stamax 30YM240 long glass fiber (LGF)-reinforced polypropylene (PP) provided by SABIC Innovative Plastics (Pittsfield, Mass.). Previous plastic door-module designs had separate metal rails attached to the module after molding. The new design features a window-regulator guide rail molded as part of the plastic door module. Wire-harness clips, the drum housing, the location pin and the door-handle bracket also are molded in.

A finalist in Chassis/Hardware was the structural composite radiator support (photo, right) on the 2010 Ford Taurus, featuring LGF-PP from Dow Automotive (Auburn Hills, Mich.) and Composites One (Arlington Heights, Ill.). This compression-molded part passed a 5,340N hood-latch pull test. It features a glass mat overlay for extra strength and reduces weight by 33 percent and direct costs by 20 percent. It also consolidates part count, simplifies materials handling and shortens assembly time compared to the coated steel and cast magnesium parts it replaced.

Chrysler’s on-engine oil filter module (photo, right) on its 2010 Pentastar was a finalist in the Materials category. Made by Hengst North America (Camen, S.C.), the module incorporates BASF’s (Ludwigshafen, Germany) Ultramid A3WG7 HRX BK, a PA 6/6 with 35 percent glass reinforcement. The material’s superior heat and chemical resistance reportedly enabled engineers to eliminate 148 parts and locate the large, spin-on oil-filter module directly in the engine valley. This reduced the weight by 43 percent and saves more than 60 percent in direct costs.

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