DETROIT — Chrysler Corp. might be nearly gone, but the plastics industry has made certain the automaker will not be forgotten.
The Auburn Hills, Mich., company — in the final stages of a merger with Daimler-Benz AG of Stuttgart, Germany — took home four of eight new-product awards Nov. 11 during the Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Division awards night in Detroit.
Chrysler even bears some relation to the evening's grand prize winner, Mitsubishi Motors Corp., which makes several U.S.-based Chrysler models in a joint venture. Mitsubishi R&D of America Inc. — the company's U.S. engineering arm — took the grand prize at the prestigious ceremony honoring the year's most innovative uses of plastics.
Mitsubishi, which has U.S. operations in Normal, Ill., won for a new I-section rear bumper beam on its 1999 Mitsubishi Galant sedan. The piece is made with a mineral-reinforced polypropylene compound from Azdel Inc., a 50-50 joint venture between GE Plastics and PPG Industries Inc.
Here are the night's winners in each @@Category:
Body exterior: The grand prize winner, Mitsubishi's Galant, also won in this category for the plastic bumper beam.
The beam, less expensive and as much as 45 percent lighter than a roll-formed steel beam, is compression molded by CSP, also known as Continental Structural Plastics, in Petoskey, Mich. The beam meets federal 5-mile-per hour safety and pole-impact standards.
Body interior: The winner was a blow molded, double-walled load floor and spare-tire cover on Chrysler's 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicle.
The polypropylene part, using glass-filled resin from Spartech Corp.'s Polycom division, conceals the spare tire and allows molded-in attachments on the part's bottom. Lear Corp.'s Fremont, Ohio, plant molds the part.
Chassis/Hardware/Assembly: This category had two winners, a steering column support bracket for Chrysler's 1998 Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager and Chrysler Town & Country minivans and a clutch pedal and bracket assembly for General Motors Corp.'s 1999 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.
The steering column bracket, using DuPont Automotive's glass-reinforced nylon 6/6, is the industry's first-ever plastic column, replacing magnesium on the Chrysler minivans. The part, injection molded by InMold Corp. of Auburn Hills, Mich., cuts costs by 40 percent.
The clutch pedal, the first made of plastic in North America, uses nylon 6 from BASF Corp. and is made by Florida Production Engineering Inc. of New Madison, Ohio.
Environment: Visteon Automotive Systems of Dearborn, Mich., won this award by reusing scrap materials from salvage yards on bumper fascias for new Ford Motor Co. vehicles.
The process, developed by recycler American Commodities Inc. of Flint, Mich., allows Visteon to recycle 30,000 pounds of thermoplastic olefin resins a week at its Milan, Mich., plant. The process removes paint and dirt from the fascia's surface. Visteon's Utica, Mich., plant plans to begin using the process in December.
Materials: After eight years of research, Textron Automotive Co. in Troy, Mich., and Pittsburgh-based Bayer Corp. developed an aliphatic thermoplastic urethane resin for instrument panel covers.
The resin, used on the 1999 Chrysler Concorde and LHS/300M sedans, has a leatherlike feel and improved scuff and mar resistance. The patented material launches a new family of thermoplastic urethanes at Bayer.
Powertrain: An all-plastic, integrated air-induction system was rolled out by Ford on its 1999 F350 light trucks.
The system, which saves Ford more than $2 million a year in manufacturing and assembly costs, incorporates an air-cleaner tray and cover, battery tray, resonator and clean-air tube. The 9-pound module uses PP from Ferro Corp. and post-consumer nylon from Wellman Corp. The part is molded by Visteon Automotive Systems.
Process/enabling technologies: Composite Products Inc., a molder in Sylvan Lake, Mich., worked with Owens Corning of Toledo, Ohio, and Montell Polyolefins of Troy, Mich., to develop a long-glass-composite structural part.
The part, both custom extruded and compression molded, is used for the 1999 Chrysler Jeep Wrangler sport wagon's soft-top door rails. The process disperses long-glass-fiber bundles into the resin without breaking them apart.
Hall of Fame: The award, for a breakthrough part in use for at least 10 years, goes to the first plastic engine fan. The fan, using DuPont's nylon, first was installed on the Citroen DS19 sedan in 1956.
Safety: Special recognition was given to Volkswagen AG's new Beetle for its structural-plastic parts and their contribution to vehicle safety.