DETROIT — DuPont Automotive's new vice president of automotive engineering materials isn't about to sit back and let the market come to him.
``We have to pay attention to the entire auto system to identify opportunities for engineering resins,'' Walter Fields said in an interview at the SAE '99 conference, held March 1-4 in Detroit.
``It's impossible as a materials supplier to sit in the lab and create new materials and expect to deliver full value to your customers,'' he said.
``The old model, which consisted of a series of handoffs between different levels of your organization, is an outmoded paradigm.''
Fields, a 21-year DuPont veteran, assumed his current title in September. His job carries a good deal of responsibility, since about half of DuPont's engineering resins are sold into the automotive market.
``We have to find ways for more sophisticated resins and molding technology to come into play as the market drives toward system integration,'' he said.
Fields singled out Crastin-brand polybutylene terephthalate, Delrin-brand acetal and Hytrel polyester elastomer as DuPont products with high potential to make further inroads into automotive uses.
At SAE, DuPont singled out several product advancements including:
Power-steering pump inlets using Zytel-brand nylon in the Ford Focus vehicle, reducing part count from 16 to one.
Ignition cassette systems using Rynite-brand PET polyester in the 1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue, eliminating high-voltage plug wires and reducing power loss 70 percent.
Generation II composite intake manifolds using Zytel-brand nylon for General Motors Corp.'s line of full-size trucks, paving the way for further integration including air-cleaner elements and throttle-body housings.
Exterior-trim applications for the 2000 Dodge and Plymouth Neon using a molded-in-color alloy of nylon and Surlyn-brand ionomer. The product eliminates painting costs and features gloss and color equal to painted metal.
SentryGlas Plus, an ionomeric interlayer for side windows, using Surlyn-brand ionomer.
SentryGlas Plus can reduce the potential of passengers being ejected from a vehicle in case of an accident, according to Michael Sanders, automotive marketing manager for DuPont Automotive's Butacite-brand sheeting.
Sanders added that DuPont is confident SentryGlas and other systems that work in conjunction with glass windows can ward off future challenges from materials and technologies like polycarbonate glazing, which is being developed by a joint venture between GE Plastics and Bayer Corp.
Affordability can become an issue where raw materials for glass and plastic are concerned.
``We love plastic, but sand is still cheaper than oil,'' Sander said.