TROY, MICH. - Automakers have imposed a strict timetable on their suppliers to convert their resin testing and specifications to ISO standards, but processors say the mandates clearly outpace standards organizations' ability to keep up. Early this year, Chrysler Corp., Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. said they would require materials specifications for 54 families of thermoplastics to be converted to ISO standards from ASTM standards by June 1998.
The letter was written under the auspices of the U.S. Council for Automotive Research and was accompanied by a two-page conversion timetable. USCAR is the Detroit automakers' consortium that deals with technological and governmental issues.
According to the timetable, specifications for eight nylon families and polyphthalamide were to have been converted to ISO standards in January.
Specifications for seven polyester resin families, including polybutylene terephthalate, PET, and polycarbonate/PBT and PC/PET blends, were to be converted to ISO standards by June.
Specs for 11 others, including polypropylene and ABS, are to be converted by next June. For 25 other resin families, including polycarbonate and polyethylene, specifications are to be converted by January 1998.
Specs for the remaining two families - polystyrene and PVC - are to be converted by June 1998.
The mandated conversion to ISO standards - which were established by the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization - is part of automakers' efforts to make cars and car parts the same at production plants around the world.
At a meeting Aug. 27 in Troy where plastic processors, distributors and resin suppliers heard details about the mandates, processors pointed out that the mandates outpace standards organizations' ability to keep up.
While the USCAR letter said, ``Most of the high-volume materials will have a referenced SAE standard, such as SAE J1639,'' the letter's timetable listed only 11 such SAE standards for the 54 resin families. Only five of the 16 resin families whose specifications were to be converted to ISO standards by June were among those with existing SAE standards.
Lori Spinney, an engineer at GM's Delphi Electronics business unit, said resin suppliers and processors must rely directly on ISO standards for any resin families whose matching specifications have not been issued through the SAE or through ASTM.
The mandated conversion is expected to help promote the ``Campus'' database program being put into place worldwide by 41 thermoplastic resin manufacturers. Campus is an acronym for computer-aided material pre-selection by uniform standards.
The resin manufacturers introduced Campus in North America at NPE '94. The program was launched in Germany in 1988 with the aim of converting resin specifications to consistent ISO test standards.
To date, specifications for about 4,500 thermoplastic resins have been converted to ISO test standards through the Campus program, said Ranganath Shastri, development leader for Dow Plastics Materials Engineering Center. Shastri was the worldwide chairman of the Campus managing group from August 1995 to August 1996.