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10/3/2019 | 2 MINUTE READ

Plastic-metal hybrid auto structure named SPE Hall of Fame winner

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The plastic-metal hybrid front end automotive structure, built by Ford Motor Co. with LANXESS glass fiber-filled PA6 resin, reduced costs and weight compared to all-steel structures.

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The first plastic-metal hybrid (PMH) front end structure, used on the 1999 C170 Ford Focus GOR from Ford Motor Co. (Detroit, Mich., U.S.), has been named the 2019 Hall of Fame winner by the Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE, Bethel, Conn., U.S.). The involved companies and people will be honored at SPE’s 49th annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition & Gala on Nov. 6, 2019.

The plastic-metal front end structure, made with Durethan BKV30H2.0 (30% glass fiber-filled PA6/heat stabilized) resin from LANXESS (Pittsburgh, Pa., U.S., formerly Bayer), with a steel insert, reportedly enabled a 40% weight reduction, 30% cost reduction, high function integration with reduced process steps, higher accuracy and quality, and higher load capacity compared to a 100% steel structure. 

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 broadly adopted in the automotive industry. This application has seen more than 70 applications and 70 million manufactured parts to date worldwide, according to SPE.

The companies involved include: Ford Motor Co., system supplier and molder/processor Visteon (Van Buren Charter Township, Mich., U.S.), toolmaker Misslbeck (Ingolstadt, Germany) and LANXESS. Boris Koch is the inventor and designer of the PMH innovation with Bayer/LANXESS, and Dr. Hubert Goldbach is the inventor and designer for the PMH innovation with Bayer. 

According to SPE, the LANXESS PMH technology combined the design freedom, flexibility and low density of glass-filled PA6 with the high strength, stiffness and low thermal expansion of metal. This thermoplastic and metal integration enabled a part with higher load capacity compared to sheet metal profiles, higher torsional stiffness compared to open sheet metal profiles, higher precision in production and use, and higher integration of functional elements. 

Key design features include an injection-molded rib structure in the thin wall metal sheet profile, with form closure grips, lay-on surfaces, overmolded edges and supporting ribs on the outside of the profile (providing a mechanical adhesion) resulting in improved part strength and support. 

Other key design features, enabling a mechanical connection of the thermoplastic and metal structures, include: conical piercing in the sheet metal creating ports for the thermoplastic ribs to be secured; fixing area at sheet metal flange for the thermoplastic ribs to snap in place; and the thermoplastic rib structure providing additional strength and support inside the metal profile.

The LANXESS PMH front end structure technology permitted the integration of features (piercings in the metal for connecting 21 different parts to the structure) in a single operation greatly improving production efficiency, cost effectiveness, and part performance.      

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