DETROIT — It was a good night for supporters of recycled plastic parts at the Society of Plastics Engineer's annual automotive awards ceremony.
The SPE Automotive Division Awards Program, held Nov. 12 in Detroit, honored DuPont Co. as the grand award winner for the use of its recycled carpet to make nylon air-cleaner housings. The application also took home SPE's environment award.
The project, considered among the largest applications of recycled plastic in vehicles, uses post-consumer carpet from Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont in 3 million air-cleaner assemblies a year.
It also was a good night for Ford Motor Co. The Dearborn, Mich., carmaker swept the competition in five of the nine categories.
That included the coveted grand prize for the recycled air-cleaner shells, which are made at a Sandusky, Ohio, plant operated by Ford's Visteon Automotive Systems parts-making unit.
Detroit-based General Motors Corp. also received three awards.
On the materials side, Troy, Mich.-based DuPont Automotive won in four categories. No other material supplier or processor took away more than a single award.
And it was an even better night for the plastics industry, which was treated to acceptance speeches from auto company executives hailing plastics' ability to crowd out the competition.
The annual event closed with a plastics cheerleading chorus from Visteon President Charles Szuluk to more than 800 guests.
``You put plastics in a room filled with aluminum, steel and metal industry [applications], and you can feel the tremors,'' said Szuluk, who added that plastics play a crucial role in virtually every Visteon part.
Here are winners and finalists in each category.
Body Exterior: Ford's development of one of the industry's lightest-weight bumper fascias for the Windstar minivan was the winner. The extremely thin fascia uses a thermoplastic olefin from Troy, Mich.-based Montell Polyolefins and is molded by Polycon Industries Inc. of Guelph, Ontario.
Chassis and Hardware: GM's S10 electric truck battery enclosure received the award. The part, considered the largest structural foam piece used in the automotive industry, can integrate a wiring harness, air-cooling channels and two different battery configurations.
The part, which weighs 1,400 pounds, eliminates 50 assembled parts. The piece is molded by Structural Foam Plastics Inc. of Somerville, N.J., using glass- and mineral-filled nylon 6 resin from Nashville, Tenn.-based ComAlloy International Corp.
Process: The use of a special injection assembly process for a rack-and-pinion steering gear was honored. The part, molded by GM's Delphi Saginaw Steering Systems in Saginaw, Mich., is made through needle injection of nylon 6/6 resin in a process that allows the material to hold in place the part's hydraulic, electronic and magnetic components.
The part is used for the Magnasteer steering gear on GM's Aurora and Riviera vehicles. The piece incorporates polyphenylene sulfide resin from Summit, N.J.-based Ticona GmbH and glass-filled nylon from Thermofil Inc. of Brighton, Mich., and DSM Engineering Plastic Products BV of Brussels, Belgium.
Body Interior: The industry's first all-plastic passenger-side air-bag housings, used on GM's Opel Vectra, won the category. The nylon 6 housing weighs 45 percent less and saves 40 percent in costs compared with metal housings.
The part is molded by Lemforder Metalwarren, Estermetall GmbH of Germany and assembled by Morristown, N.J.-based AlliedSignal Inc. using 40 percent glass-filled nylon from BASF Corp. of Mount Olive, N.J.
Powertrain: The world's first flat air-housing unit, used on Mercedes-Benz heavy trucks, took the award. The part, one of the largest gas-assist components ever molded in nylon, can be installed vertically or horizontally to save space.
The piece was molded by Filterwerk Mann+Hummel GmbH of Ludwigsburg, Germany, and uses DuPont's glass-reinforced nylon 6/6.
Materials: Ford's invention of the first conductive TPO resin used for electrostatically painted parts was honored. The material's low carbon-filler content allows paint transfer with an efficiency similar to that of steel. The material, used at Visteon's Utica, Mich., plant, is supplied by Solvay Polymers Inc. of Houston.
Hall of Fame: SPE gave this award, which honors parts converted to plastics with more than 10 years of service, to Ford for its use of DuPont's Vespel polyamide for transmission seal rings. The rings, which replaced cast-iron parts, first were used on Ford's 1977 tractor transmissions.