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SPE Automotive Division honors innovations at 21st awards ceremony.

Chrysler Corp.'s integrated child's safety seat for the 1992 Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan won the Grand Award at the SPE Automotive Division's 21st Annual Awards presentation, held November 4 at the Detroit Westin Hotel's Renaissance Ballroom. The Grand Award recognizes the past year's most innovative use of plastics in an automotive application; its winner is chosen from among products judged to be most innovative in seven different categories-Body Interior, Body Exterior, Chassis, International, Materials, Powertrain, and Process.

Approximately 750 people attended the ceremony, which also featured the presentation of the Trav Meister Hall of Fame award to a plastics application in continuous use for ten or more years. An Environmental category, new to the competition this year, accepted nominations and selected finalists but did not recognize a winner.

The safety seat, which also took first place in the Body Interior category, accommodates children weighing 20 to 40 lbs and folds down easily to eliminate problems of missing or improperly installed add-on child seats. By folding up in reverse order, it provides additional seating space for adults.

The structural shell of the seat is compression molded by Barnum Co. of Exxon Taffen, a 40% glass reinforced polypropylene selected for its favorable performance relative to hot and cold fatigue, cycle time, strength, and impact testing. It is reported to absorb a child's belt loads caused by a frontal impact of 30 mph.

Hook and loop fasteners from Velcro hold a removable comfort pad-molded by Pac-Lite Products of Huntsman Gecet foam-to the composite shell without the aid of adhesives or secondary operations.

General Motors claimed top honors in the Body Exterior category with its door latch assembly for the 1992 Saturn, Jaguar, Lotus, and B, C, E, H, K, N, and V passenger cars. Representing the first extensive use of plastic in an automotive door latch assembly, the product meets impending FMVSS side impact regulations, scheduled to take effect by the 1992 model year. Its reported advantages over a metal latch assembly include consolidation of parts, 36% reduction of mass, and a flexibility of design that permits addition of optional child safety and power unlatching features. Single action rod clips and a self-adjusting outside handle clip are said to reduce errors in manufacturing the product; tighter tolerances, improved linkage connections, and extensive use of silencers reduce door rattles. Nyloncraft, Inc., used Du Pont Acetal, G/R nylon, and PBT to process the product.

The winner of the Chassis category was Ford Motor Co.'s plastic cowl side (kick pad) wiring/connector retaining bracket for the 1990 Lincoln Town Car, 1992 Ford and Mercury models, and 1993 Mark VIII. The multifunction bracket makes efficient use of cowl side package space by providing an organized method of interface among the instrument panel, body, and engine compartment wiring. The organized wiring environment is reported to eliminate the fit and finish problems of traditional trim panels; direct installation of a sound insulator against sheet metal reduces sound levels within the vehicle. Avon Plastic Products manufactures the retaining bracket from DNS Plastics polypropylene with 20% talc composition.

The centering sphere for Saginaw Steering Gear's tilt wheel won the Trav Meister Hall of Fame Award. Made of Du Pont Delrin 100 Acetal resin, the centering sphere has been in continuous use since 1963 on GM, AMC, Chrysler, Rolls Royce, and Jaguar cars. The product is reported to feature low cost, zero maintenance, and a wear-compensating zero backlash design.

The winner of the International category was the thermoplastic film finished ABS B pillar molding, manufactured by Scherer & Trier for use on the Opel Omega and Senator. Rexham Decorative provided the Fluorex film finish for the B pillar, believed to represent the first commercial use of in-mold film finishing on an exterior plastic part to achieve a Class A finish. The thermoplastic film finishing concept is reported to be a cost-effective, environmentally benign alternative to conventional painting for plastic parts.

Ford Motor Co.'s passenger air bag door for the 1992 Lincoln Town Car took first place in the Materials category. The one-piece, unreinforced door incorporates a new, recyclable material processed by Davidson Interior Trim: Du Pont DYM 100 BK thermoplastic polyester elastomer. Its advantages include savings of cost (70%) and weight (50%), compared with doors of RIM urethane reinforced with nylon open weave scrim (RRIM/scrim). Manufacture of the part is reported to reduce cycle times to 60 to 70 sec, significantly lower than the range of 6 to 8 min necessary with the RRIM/scrim design.

General Motors Co. received honors in the Powertrain category for its all-plastic clutch actuation system on the 1990 Saturn and 1991 GM Truck and Bus. The prefilled hydraulic system-molded by IMC of Du Pont Zytel 43% glass-reinforced 6/6 and aramid fiber 6/6-eliminates steel liners and is reported to reduce weight, save costs, and resist high under-hood operating temperatures. By reducing the number of parts, the system simplifies assembly and reduces potential leak paths.

The winner in the Process category was the in-line extrusion stamping of high impact polypropylene copolymer by Ford Motor Co.'s Maumee Stamping Plant. The process uses PP copolymer, supplied by Rexene and Himont, to produce fender aprons, engine compartment and wheel house splash shields, and interior sound deadening panels for Ford passenger cars and pickup trucks. Besides reducing setup and cycle times, the process has significantly reduced costs by eliminating the need for equipment used in standard extrusion stamping and thermoforming.

From nominations submitted by equipment manufacturers, molders, tool makers, and materials suppliers, the SPE Automotive Division's Board of Directors selected finalists in each category. A panel of judges, composed of industry analysts and editors of automotive and technical trade publications, then chose the winners, as well as the recipients of the Grand Award and the Hall of Fame Award.

The finalists in the Environmental category were the 1991 Saturn's expanded polypropylene foam bumper energy absorbers, formed of Arco/JSP Co.'s recyclable Arpro expanded polypropylene foam, which eliminates the use of CFCs as a blowing agent; and Ford Motor Co.'s interior rear quarter trim panels, uppers and lowers. The trim panels, designed for disassembly with molded-in fasteners, are molded of Dow Magnum 342 EZ ABS by O'Sullivan Corp.'s Gulfstream Division. They reportedly reduce by 60% the number of mechanical fasteners required. -M.W. Shortt
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Title Annotation:Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Division's 21st Annual Awards
Author:Shortt, M.W.
Publication:Plastics Engineering
Date:Dec 1, 1991
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