SPE Innovation Awards winners announced

The 38th annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala was hosted by the Society of Plastics Engineers on Nov. 20 in Livonia, Mich., and gave out awards to plastic and composite parts in eight categories.

The Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) on Nov. 20 hosted the 38th annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition & Gala at the Burton Manor in the Detroit suburb of Livonia, Mich. About 600 people from throughout the automotive industry were in attendance at the event.

Winning parts, several of them composites, were announced in eight categories. The SPE also gave awards for Lifetime Achievement, Executive Leadership, Vehicle Engineering and Hall of Fame induction. The winners were:

--Body Exterior: Integrated Rocker Molding/running board system on the 2008 Ford Escape SUV, blowmolded by ABC group of Saflex 30 percent glass-filled polypropylene (PP).

--Body Interior: All-plastic integrated floor shifter/front console on the 2009 Ford Flex CUV, injection molded by Automotive Components Holdings of recycled SMA and long glass-filled PP.

--Chassis, Hardware & Powertrain: Oil pan module on the 2008 Mercedes C-Class diesel sedan, injection molded by G. Bruss GmbH of DuPont's Zytel glass-filled polyamide 6/6.

--Materials: TPE for slush molding of IP skins on the 2009 GM Saab 9-7X SUV, slush molded by Inteva Products of Inteva's STP 747 TPO/TPE.

--Environmental: Soy foam automotive seat cushions on the 2007 Ford Mustang, molded by Lear Corp. of a soy-based polyurethane.

--Performance & Customization: Hood assembly with dual-weave carbon fiber on the 2008 GM Corvette ZR1, molded by Plasan Carbon Composites of carbon fiber/epoxy prepreg provided by ETS and ACG.

--Process, Assembly & Enabling Technologies: Twin-sheet blowmolded fuel system on the 2009 BMW Series 7 sedan, blowmolded by Inergy Automotive Systems of LyondellBasell's Lupolen 4261 HDPE.

--Safey: Styrene foam EAs for head impact on the 2008 Ford Focus, molded by Grupo Antolin North America of Dow's Impaxx 300 PS.

The Grand Award winner was the blowmolded fuel system on the 2009 BMW Series 7. The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Frank Macher, currently CEO and managing partner of FMAC & Assoc. LLC (Ann Arbor, Mich.). He also was former CEO and president of Collins & Aikman Corp., CEO and chairman of Federal Mogul Corp., president and CEO of ITT Automotive, and most significantly, vice president Automotive Components Group at Ford Motor Co. Macher regaled the audience with tales of automotive manufacturing from his early days at Ford and discussed the importance of innovation and creativity in all aspects of manufacturing.

The Executive Leadersip Team Award went to the FreedomCAR & Fuel Parnership. The Engineering Leadership Award was given to Ford for plastics innovation in the Ford Flex crossover utility vehicle (CUV). The Hall of Fame Award was given for the first automotive urethane seating used in the 1957 Desoto and Chrysler 300.