SPE Auto Winners

The Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Division has handed out its Automotive Innovation Awards for the use of plastics materials in a variety of automotive applications, and clearly Ford has to be given credit for winning in a number of categories, including the “Grand Award.” Specifically: · The 2012 Ford Escape and Euro market Kuga use an instrument panel that is molded with the MuCell microcellular injection molding process.

The Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Division has handed out its Automotive Innovation Awards for the use of plastics materials in a variety of automotive applications, and clearly Ford has to be given credit for winning in a number of categories, including the “Grand Award.”

Specifically:

· The 2012 Ford Escape and Euro market Kuga use an instrument panel that is molded with the MuCell microcellular injection molding process. This not only results in a weight reduction of approximately 1 lb., but cycle time is reduced by 15% and there is a cost save of approximately $3/vehicle compared with a solid injection molded part. This is the Grand Award winner.

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· The 2011 Ford Focus features a reinforced airbag lid in foam. This uses a reinforced structural 3D skeleton of PET and a polyurethane foam lid in replace of a metal or plastic airbag lid door. The weight save is described as “significant.” It was awarded in the Safety category.

· The 2012 Escape and Kuga also have an over molded polypropylene component for the seat that provides wire harness routing and retention, seat cushion and back-trim retention, and climate control system retention. There had been six parts. Now one. Interior awardee.

· The 2011 Focus models have an injection molded polyester power window output gear and shaft. A steel output pinion had been previously used. Winner in the chassis/hardware category.

But other OEMs and their suppliers were awarded, as well.

· Chrysler for the “Ram Box” assembly for its 2012 Ram pickup. The storage box is now made with a twin-sheet thermoforming process rather than blow molding. The part is now stronger and more accurately produced. Exterior awardee.

· Fiat for the renewably sourced polyamide used for diesel fuel lines in its 2011 diesel engines. The PA composition has a minimum of 60% bio content by weight.

· General Motors for the use of plastics in the battery pack for the 2011 Chevy Volt. Injection molded hydrolysis-resistant PA 6/6 is used for coolant channeling to and from the battery cells. Winner in the powertrain category.

· Hyundai-Kia in the materials category for the injection molded PP pillar trim used in the Pride and Optima Kias and Elantra Hyundai. It uses a filler consisting of volcanic rock, fiber pile, and glass spheres in place of a talc-filled PP and a fabric-wrapped PP. There are both a 10% weight and 50% direct cost save. In addition to which, other benefits are cited for using the volcanic mineral: “it emits negative ions (to reduce pollutants) and far-infrared energy.” Don’t ask.