The humble minivan is providing a stage for auto interiors maker International Automotive Components Group LLC to show off what it has been doing these past few years.
IAC's seamless thermoplastic polyolefin instrument panel on Chrysler Group LLC's Town & Country minivan demonstrates the supplier's new ability to vertically integrate production from compounding to molding at one plant.
And Honda Motor Co. Ltd.'s Odyssey minivan is using a two-color instrument panel that IAC produced in a single cycle, taking advantage of sequential gating.
Both components demonstrate IAC's evolution since its creation five years ago, when financier Wilbur Ross launched a series of acquisitions to develop a global company that would make everything in the interior except seats. The company currently is based in Dearborn, Mich., but it will be moving into a new corporate campus in Southfield, Mich., later this year.
Chrysler's minivan highlights IAC's ability to offer its customers a complete package from custom material blended on-site at its Huron, Ohio, facility to molding the final product, said Maurice Sessel, senior vice president of engineering. Sessel spoke during a Jan. 11 tour of the cars on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
IAC developed and formulated the TPO to meet safety requirements for a seamless air bag. The material is compounded at Huron, transported to presses in the same building, molded, trimmed and shipped to Chrysler.
Honda's Odyssey, meanwhile, demonstrates molding capabilities at IAC's plant in Dayton, Tenn. The company produces an instrument panel with two different colors for the upper and lower part.
Rather than using a more expensive two-shot system, IAC uses a standard press. The firm shoots the different colors into the mold using gating to shift between the colors.
An appliqué trim installed over the center of the panel hides the parting line where the two colors shift, Sessel said.
IAC is taking the system further by currently developing a two-shot process to produce the two colors by the same method in use now, except that a second shot would make a thermoplastic elastomer panel to replace the cover trim.
The auto show was held Jan. 10-23.