Plastics News staff reporters Frank Esposito and Joseph Pryweller gathered the following items at SAE '99, held March 1-4 in Detroit.
Kantus touts 1-piece PP instrument panel
Injection molder Kantus Corp. of Lewisburg, Tenn., claims to have made the industry's largest one-piece polypropylene instrument panel, for the 1999 Honda Odyssey.
The part, made using gas-assisted injection molding, measures more than 5 feet long, almost 2 feet high and 2 feet deep. It's an example of Kantus' ongoing attempts to diversify its business.
Kantus' parent, Kansei Corp. of Omiya, Japan, is a major supplier to Nissan Corp. and located its plant in Lewisburg to be near Nissan's Nashville, Tenn., plant.
As Nissan has cut production there, Kantus has bid on jobs at Honda, General Motors and Chrysler, according to Steven Phillips, domestic accounts sales manager at Kantus' engineering and design office in Southfield, Mich.
``We've refocused in the last year and seen huge leaps in the quantity and quality of the quotes we've been getting,'' Phillips said.
Kantus, which added two new lines in December to handle electronic parts like circuit boards, is promoting molded-in color technology, which eliminates painting costs, saving $6-$7 on each instrument panel. Instrument panels and auto electrical applications each account for about 40 percent of the firm's sales.
Wilden Plastics adds space, 6 new presses
Wilden Plastics has completed a 23,000-square-foot addition at its Peachtree City, Ga., plant.
The expansion added six new injection molding presses, including two that were installed last month. The plant now operates 26 presses, said technical sales manager Jeff Nielsen.
Automotive sales account for about 20 percent of Wilden's business, Nielsen said. Recent projects include a light box with time, temperature and navigational equipment that Wilden made for Siemens Automotive LP.
GE predicting jump in auto-plastic use
GE Plastics expects the amount of plastics used in the average vehicle to climb from 250 pounds to the 600-pound mark by 2008.
Tom Bouchard, general manager of GE Plastics' automotive unit, said that goal can be reached through technological improvements, such as one being pursued by the polycarbonate window-glazing joint venture between GE and Bayer AG of Germany.
He said GE has invested $40 million in the Bayer joint venture, which is doing prototype work at a small plant in Wixom, Mich.
``That market is too enticing not to go after it and give the glass people a run for their money,'' he said.
GE materials that recently have been generating interest in the auto market include Noryl GTX, a nylon/polyphenylene oxide blend being used in body panels in the Saturn line, and Cycoloy polycarbonate/ABS blends being used in instrument panels.
Low-warp nylon 6 compounds made by Michael Day Enterprises of Wadsworth, Ohio, are being used in wheel centers on the 1999 Saturn. The materials, also available in nylon 6/6, were commercialized in mid-1998 for use on engine covers to eliminate shrinkage during painting, said automotive sales manager Robert Chaplin. ... Parts supplier Robert Bosch GmbH has switched grades of recycled nylon in fan shrouds used in the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Stuttgart, Germany, firm opted for post-consumer nylon, which is more environmentally friendly than the post-industrial material it had used, according to Keith Groat, program manager for the airflow systems group in Farmington Hills, Mich. Groat said the switch required minor design changes, but resulted in the same noise and vibration reduction.