Finalists named for 2018 SPE Automotive Innovation Awards

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Society of Plastics Engineers photo This 3D printed window alignment fixture is 30 percent lighter and cheaper to produce than a traditional welded fixture, according to Ford Motor Co.

The Society of Plastics Engineers’ Automotive Division has selected the finalists for the 2018 Automotive Innovation Awards.

Nine category finalists and one grand award winner were chosen during an Oct. 5 Blue Ribbon judging round. The winners will be announced during the society’s 48th annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala Nov. 7 at Burton Manor in Livonia, Mich.

This year’s finalists are:

Additive Manufacturing

• Ford Motor Co. for a 3D printed venting insert on the 2019 Ranger pickup. To improve venting, the 3D printed insert is designed with integrated venting channels that allow gas to escape into the atmosphere. Ford said manufacturing time is reduced by 70 percent for the 3D printed part compared with steel. The design also eliminates the need for a separate grille. Faurecia Interior Systems Inc. is the Tier 1 supplier, with Hi-Tech Mold & Engineering Inc. supplying the tooling. The thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) material is from Advanced Composites Inc.

• Ford for the window alignment fixture on the 2017 Mustang convertible. The 3D-printed fixture, made with a carbon fiber-reinforced nylon from Stratasys Ltd., is 30 percent lighter and cheaper to produce than the traditional welded fixture. Stratasys supplies the system, material and tooling for the part.

• Ford for a 3D printed lift assist used in assembly for the 2018 Escape SUV and Fusion sedan. The updated lift assist, which carries anything from a half shaft to an instrument panel, has a 222-pound weight savings over a traditional steel welded or machined lift assist. Ford said the 3D printed version also costs 50 percent less to manufacture. Stratasys supplies the system and materials, with Eckhart Inc. supplying the tooling.

Society of Plastics Engineers photo Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's thermoplastic liftgate on the 2019 Jeep Cherokee replaces a steel design.

Body Exterior

• Groupe Renault for the first thermoplastic composite guide rails for a sunroof module on the 2016 Scenic MPV. The composite guide rails, made from a glass fiber, ABS and styrene maleic anhydride blend, reduce production from seven steps to two. Sunroof installation on the assembly line is also reduced to a one-step, top-loaded process, resulting in a 20 percent cost savings. Webasto SE supplies the system. The ARRK Group’s Shapers supplies the tooling.

• Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV for the thermoplastic liftgate on the 2019 Jeep Cherokee. The thermoplastic liftgate replaces the steel design and enables a 28 percent mass reduction in addition to a 50 percent tooling and capital investment savings. The automaker said it is an industry-first use of conformal infrared welding behind the molded-in-color grain Class A surface. Magna International Inc. is the Tier 1 supplier, with materials from Trinseo SA and LyondellBassell NV. Tycos Tool & Die Co., a division of Magna Exteriors, supplies the tooling.

• Fiat Chrysler for the injection molded rear bumper step reinforcement on the 2019 Ram 1500 pickup. The one-piece glass fiber-reinforced polypropylene part replaces an all-metal rear bumper assembly. The plastic rear bumper maintains a chromed metal shell and achieves an 8-pound weight savings. Flex-N-Gate Corp. supplies the system, with material from Celanese Corp. Integrity Tool & Mold Inc. supplies the tooling.

• General Motors Co. for a bumper bracket on the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado pickup. The glass fiber-reinforced polypropylene bumper bracket replaces a stamped steel design. The plastic bracket allows for the integration of fog lamp mounting in the design and mass savings. Flex-N-Gate and its Ventra Plastics division supply the system, with tooling from Integrity Tool & Mold. Mitsui Chemicals Inc. and Lotte Advanced Materials Co. Ltd. supply the material.

Body Interior

• PSA Group for the lighted headliner on the 2013 Peugeot 2008 SUV. The decorative application of ambient lighting utilizes the integration of a planar light guide with LEDs embedded in a flexible cable. This is done in a wet polyurethane compression molding process. Common tooling from Grupo Antolin, which also supplies the system, allows for vehicle upgrades compatible with standard versions. Oroglas supplies the acrylic.

• SAIC General Motors Corp. Ltd., GM’s Chinese joint venture, for the door trim panel on the 2016 Buick LaCrosse sedan. The injection molded part is produced via chemical foaming with a core-back process and achieves a 26 percent weight savings vs. a comparable industry standard application. Cycle time is also reduced by about 20 percent. Yanfeng Automotive Interiors supplies the system and tooling. Suzhou Runjia Engineering Plastics Ltd. Co. and Mitsui Chemicals supply the material.

• Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. for what it says is the first instrument panel with long glass fiber on a visual surface on the 2019 FE-6 sedan. The new design integrates polished and grained areas into one part with one tool, resulting in overall weight reduction and a cost savings of $2.20 per vehicle. SH Global Co. Ltd. supplies the system, with tooling from Taizhou Huangyan Tianhui Mould Co. Ltd. Materials are from Celanese.

• Ford for the integrated modular pelvic bolster on the 2018 Lincoln Navigator SUV. The application combines two side-impact bolster designs into one and integrates the part into the door trim map packet. The condensed design offers an estimated cost savings of $100,000 in tooling and a 10 percent weight reduction. Faurecia supplies the system, using polypropylene material from LyondellBassell. Roush Industries Inc. supplies the tooling.

Chassis/Hardware

• Fiat Chrysler for the hybrid control arm with an integral ball joint on the 2019 Ram 1500. The automaker said this is the first usage of engineered plastic in the structure of a control arm for a high-volume production, light-duty full-size truck. The glass fiber-reinforced nylon part is injection molded over a welded steel stamping assembly, resulting in a 13 percent weight reduction and improved fuel economy. Iljin Group supplies the system, with materials from BASF Corp.

• Ford for the integrated window regulator system on the 2019 Focus. The system features integrated organo fibers overmolded in a plastic material. The application achieves a 30 percent cost reduction as well as weight savings. Brose North America Inc. supplies the system and tooling. Materials are from Lanxess AG and Borealis AG.

• Ford for the sonic welded fog lamp and air curtain bracket on the 2018 Mustang. The one-piece, sonic welded bracket features a living hinge that is molded into the bracket, forming the duct for the air curtain. The application enables an annual weight savings of 0.2 pounds per vehicle and the elimination of 1.6 million fasteners. Flex-N-Gate supplies the system, with tooling from Omega Tool Corp. Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (Sabic) supplies the TPO material.

• Fiat Chrysler for the high-strength, self-tapping composite nut on the 2016 Chrysler Pacifica minivan. The composite nut has self-healing properties that allow it to maintain sufficient torque and clamp load even after being stripped. Estimated cost savings are around $3.25 per vehicle. ITW Deltar Fasteners supplies the system, using material from Asahi Kasei Corp. and tooling from Maple Mold Technologies Inc.

Environmental

• Ford for the foamed extension dash panel on the 2019 Edge SUV. The dash panel is made with recycled polypropylene sourced from carpet backing and filled with recycled tire rubber and 20 percent glass. The part is injection molded with MuCell foaming, enabling a weight savings of 0.52 pounds and a cost reduction of 28 percent. Ford said 11.9 million square feet of carpet and more than 26,000 pounds of tire material were recycled for the application. Windsor Mold Inc. supplies the system. Materials are from Wellman Advanced Materials LLC and Lehigh Technologies Inc.

• Ford for the use of sustainable hybrid composites on the 2018 Lincoln Continental luxury sedan. The automaker said the industry-first application of composites combining cellulose fiber from trees with long glass fiber in a polypropylene matrix results in a $2 million cost savings achieved by reducing weight and cycle times by 20-40 percent. Summit Polymers Inc. is the Tier 1 supplier and toolmaker. The composite materials are from Celanese and International Paper Co.

• Ford for what it says is the first-time use of recycled, molded-in-color TPO for Class A components on the 2019 Transit van. Materials, supplied by Canuck Compounders Inc., include recycled polypropylene from automotive regrind and FDA-approved plastics. Magna is the Tier 1 supplier.

Society of Plastics Engineers photo Hyundai Motor Co. is using conductive plastic compound materials for EMI shielding on high-voltage covers on the 2019 Nexo SUV.

Materials

• Hyundai Motor Co. for its use of EMI (electromagnetic interference) shielding compounds developed for high-voltage junction box upper covers on the 2019 Nexo SUV. The material, from Hanwa Compound, replaces conventional die-cast aluminum for reduced weight and manufacturing costs. Yura Corp. supplies the system, with tooling from Hyundai.

• Ford for the use of lightweight elastomeric material on the 2017 Lincoln Continental. The ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) and thermoplastic vulcanizate (TPV) material from Cooper Standard Automotive Inc. offers automakers a 30 percent mass reduction vs. dense EPDM and a 10 percent mass reduction vs. dense TPV.

• GM for the thick polycarbonate light bar for unique LED styling in headlamps on the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup. The automaker used Covestro LLC’s crystal polycarbonate and a proprietary multishot injection molding process to achieve a floating C-shape and sculptured ice appearance. Proper Group International Inc. is the toolmaker. Valeo Lighting Systems is the Tier 1 supplier.

Powertrain

• Ford for the all-plastic vacuum generation system for brake assist on the 2017 F-150 pickup. The lightweight, low-cost system is designed to assist with braking feel and function. The thermoplastic part achieves a 40 percent weight reduction and a 25 percent cost savings over current pump systems. Dayco Products LLC is the Tier 1 supplier. MacLean-Fogg Component Solutions and Engineering Plastics Co. are the processors. Materials are from DowDuPont Inc.

• Ford for the industry-first, cost-neutral application of graphene-reinforced polyurethane foam on the 2018 F-150. The under-the-hood application is used for pump and rail covers. Eagle Industries Inc. is the Tier 1 supplier and toolmaker. XG Sciences Inc. supplies the graphene-reinforced polyurethane foam.

Process/Assembly/Enabling Technologies

• Fiat Chrysler for the integrated tire carrier, rear camera and brake light assembly on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler. The hybrid composite technology uses magnesium injection molding for higher structural strength and reduced weight as well as polymer overmolding for better impact and corrosion resistance. The new design also eliminates the need for a steel bracket. Grammer AG’s Toledo Molding & Die Inc. is the Tier 1 supplier. Tooling is from Leggera Technologies LLC. DowDuPoint supplies the material.

• Ford for the modular seat bushing on the 2018 Focus Active crossover hatchback. The rear seat mounting bracket and pivot system self-locates and self-retains, and replaces a royalty-fee design that requires tools for service and removal. Ford is the Tier 1 supplier. DowDupont supplies the nylon material. The toolmaker is Prevent TWB GmbH & Co. KG.

• Ford for faux stitch-and-ditch features on the 2019 Focus. The stitching aesthetics are added to the in-mold grain and lamination and replace cast-vinyl and spray polyurethane processes. Faurecia supplies the system, with tooling from GS Engineering. The TPO skin is from Benecke-Kaliko AG.

Safety

• Ford for the interlocking mechanism design for side impact on the 2019 Transit Connect van. The patent-pending design, which prevents the fracturing or separating of components that could cause sharp edges, replaces the need for metal bracket reinforcements. Faurecia is the Tier 1 supplier, with tooling from Meymol SL. Trinseo supplies the ABS material.

• Ford for the use of a new proprietary material for driver airbag covers on the 2019 F-150. The automaker said the TPE material — replacing TPO injection molding methods — offers better deployment performance at extreme temperatures as well as improved cosmetic appearance and a lighter weight design that enables 10 percent weight savings. The material is from Sumitomo Chemical Co. Ltd. The Tier 1 supplier and toolmaker is ZF Friedrichshafen AG.

• American Honda Motor Co. Inc. for what it says is the first-known all-plastic autonomous milliwave radar bracket on the 2019 Acura RDX. The bracket features a pedestrian impact breakaway function to improve safety upon impact. Nifco America Corp. supplies the system and tooling. DowDuPont supplies the material.

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