DETROIT — While sheet molding compound is not gaining pounds, it is taking on new automotive applications.
The SMC Automotive Alliance, based in Troy, Mich., presented its annual look at SMC growth in the auto industry during SAE '98, held Feb. 23-26 in Detroit. According to the alliance, applications for structural and drivetrain components have grown more than threefold since 1993.
The lightweight steel substitute, long used for body panels such as hoods, fenders and deck lids, increasingly has supplanted steel in less-visible applications. The material is used frequently for such structural and drivetrain parts as grille opening reinforcements, bumper beams, valve covers and fuel-tank heat shields, said Donald Kossak, SMC Automotive Alliance chairman.
Kossak, who is director of exterior sales at Madison Heights, Mich.-based Cambridge Industries Inc., said the number of SMC structural and drivetrain applications has grown from 22 parts in 1993 to 71 parts this year. Those components represent about 35 percent of the SMC pounds used by the auto industry, Kossak said.
However, the amount of SMC used in the auto industry has stayed relatively flat. A projected 237.1 million pounds will be used this year, compared with 236 million pounds last year, the alliance said. Still, that figure represents the largest poundage of SMC used by carmakers in the past five years.
New SMC uses this year include the hood on the 1998 Ford Lincoln Navigator; the deck lid for the redesigned General Motors Corvette; the hood, deck lid, fenders and sun shade on Ford's Lincoln Continental; and the hood, fenders, grille and accent bar on Freightliner's HN 177 heavy truck.