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SPE Automative Division's 41st annual awards: November 2011 Gala recognizes the best in cars and plastics.

On November 9, 2011, the Automotive Division of the SPE celebrated the winners of its 41st Annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition: first-place finishers in eight categories, and the Grand Award, Hall of Fame Award, and Vehicle Engineering Team Award honorees. David B. Reed was recognized for his lifetime achievements. The event was held at Burton Manor in Livonia, Michigan, USA. The winners:

Grand Award

The top honor, the Grand Award, went to the MuCell Instrument Panel, which was also the winner in the Process/Assembly/Enabling Technologies Category.

* OEM Make & Model: Ford Motor Co. 2012 MY Ford Escape compact SUV & Kuga compact 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% talc-filled PP/Microcellular injection molding


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 over 1 lb, mechanicals are improved, cycle time is reduced 15%, and clamp tonnage is reduced 45%, saving an estimated $3/vehicle vs. solid injection molding.

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 P840FG-4611 (box), P6-15FG-0741 (lid); P6-15FG-0754 (end caps) PP/Twin-sheet thermoforming

Twin-sheet thermoforming replaces blow molding 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 inches to 6 ft 4 inches, requiring greater emphasis on the "heavy-duty nature of the structure's design materials of construction. A special new grade of GR-PP eliminated the need to upgrade to heavier and costly PA 6/6, avoiding a 9% weight and 20% 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


The injection-molded PP design reduces part count from five to one per 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 six parts to achieve. Now there are five 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


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 S.p.A. 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


This is the first automotive use of PA 10/10 and the first biobased PA 10/10 application. It is used in a diesel fuel line replacing PA 12. The biobased resin provides superior temperature and chemical resistance, plus heat-aging performance in biodiesel fuel blends vs. PA 12. This specific composition also contains a minimum of 60% bio-content by weight for a more sustainable solution.

Category: Materials

Volcanic-Filler Pillar Trim

* OEM Make & Model: HyundaiKia 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


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% weight savings and a 50% direct cost savings were 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% GF, HS/Injection molding


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.

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


RALF technology is an optimized instrument panel/passenger airbag door system that uses a reinforced structural 3D-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.

Hall of Fame

The SuperPlug, from Inteva Products, LLC (formerly Delphi Interior & Lighting Systems), an integrated door-hardware module, which first debuted in 1997 on vehicles from then General Motors Corp., was selected as the 2011 Hall of Fame winner. The first all-plastic door-hardware module, it reduced components and fasteners by up to 75% (replacing 40 separate metal parts) by molding features into a single gas-assist injection-molded composite frame--made with SABIC's Xenoy 30% glass-filled polycarbonate/polybutylene terephthalate (PC/PBT) resin--that literally "plugged-into" the inner door on the vehicle-assembly line, improving ergonomics and quality, saving labor time and costs, and reducing warranty claims. The SuperPlug door module reduces costs by 10%, reduces weight by 3.3 lb per door/13.2 lb per vehicle and simplifies assembly by allowing the module to be placed within the door on the assembly line. This door module program paved the way for door modules across the industry.



The interiors of the 2011 model year (MY) Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger mid-size sedans, which were developed and launched as part of vehicle facelifts in just over a year, won Chrysler Group LLC and its interiors supplier, Faurecia, the 2011 Vehicle Engineering Team Award (VETA). VETA recognizes the technical achievements of entire teams of automotive designers and engineers, tier integrators, materials suppliers, toolmakers, and others whose work--in research, design, engineering, and/or manufacturing--has led to significant integration of polymeric materials on a notable vehicle. This is the fifth time in eight years that the award has been presented.


David B. Reed Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

David B. Reed was selected as this year's Lifetime Achievement award winner for his leading role on many of GM's composite-bodied vehicles as well as numerous plastics innovations. He began his career at GM in 1963 while a co-op student at then General Motors Institute (GMI, renamed Kettering University) and joined the Chevrolet Materials Group in 1967. He received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering/Materials Science and completed his thesis on Development of Nylon Fuel Lines, in which he developed and recommended use of a more durable grade of nylon type 11 fuel lines, which eventually led to industry-wide use of the material in this application.

In 1969, Mr. Reed was promoted to senior engineer with responsibility for all Chevrolet plastics, elastomers, gaskets, and adhesives. During this time he introduced ethylene-propylene-diene monomer (EPDM) rubber for heater and radiator hoses on all Chevrolet vehicles, which doubled hose life. Mr. Reed also led the development of painted thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) bumper-filler panels, painted polyurethane (PUR) reaction-injection-molded (RIM) bumper fascias, and polycarbonate (PC) lenses for all Chevrolet and GMC truck rear tail lamps.

In 1977 Mr. Reed was promoted to staff engineer at Pontiac Engineering, where he was responsible for all Pontiac plastics and elastomers. He helped develop the composite body constructions for GM'S Pontiac Fiero and Firebird and Chevrolet Camaro sports cars, the Saturn coupe and sedan, and the EV1 electric vehicle. In fact, five of the programs he worked on were named Grand Award winners in SPE'S annual Automotive

Innovation Awards Competition, including the win in 1974 for the front and rear bumper covers (fascias) on the Chevrolet Monza subcompact--an application that in 1993 also received the Hall of Fame award; the win in 1983 for exterior body panels on the Pontiac Fiero sports car; a second Fiero sports car win in 1986 for rear quarter windows; the 1990 award for exterior door panels on Saturn sedans; and an award in 1996 for the structural battery tray on GM's iconic EV1 electric vehicle.


Before retiring from GM in 2008, Mr. Reed led the development of enhanced interior materials introduced on the Cadillac SRX, STS, and CTS luxury vehicles. These vehicles received great acclaim for the luxury, functionality, and good looks of their interiors, and they also led to a new generation of interior technology integration for aesthetics, comfort, and safety at GM. He also proposed GM'S partnership role in starting an industry-wide plastics recycling program with government assistance, which eventually became the United States Council for Automotive Research LLC (USCAR) Vehicle Recycling Partnership. He also led GM's recycling team to share and optimize use of in-house plastics molding scrap across "all GM'S molding operations, saving the automaker millions of dollars annually.

Mr. Reed has a long history of service to engineering societies. He is a recipient of SAE International's Forest R. McFarland Award for work on innovative technical sessions on such topics as Advances in Automotive Composite Body Panels, New Composite Cars, New Developments in Asian Plastics Applications, and Automotive Plastics Recycling. He also organized and led a technical session on Challenges in SMC Finishing at SPE's own inaugural Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE), and has been a long-time director on the board of the SPE Automotive Division. Since retiring, Dave Reed has continued his dedication to plastics innovations as a consultant.
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Publication:Plastics Engineering
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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