On June 2nd, ENGEL and partner SABIC, a leading global materials producer, hosted the 2022 trend.scaut Automotive Conference. Presentations and discussions were held in the morning at the Sheraton Detroit in Novi, Michigan, with onsite molding demonstrations shown in the afternoon at SABIC’s Automotive Development Center in nearby Wixom. The invitation-only event was the second to be held in the US, attracted over 150 industry leaders and experts, and focused on new opportunities for molders in the growing electric vehicle market.
Unique event highlights new opportunities for molding in growing electric vehicle market
ENGEL and partner SABIC host second trend.scaut automotive conference in the US
It is the second time that this automotive conference was held in America — with ENGEL be-ing your trend scout in the automotive industry. This motto also reflects in the series’ name, combining the words "trend scout" and "automotive" to "trend.scaut."
Live event kindles strategic EV conversations
trend.scaut 2022 was a welcome live event bringing in over 150 participants for deep discussions and valuable networking. Industry experts from across the value chain shared insights on significant trends like electrification, lightweighting, battery design and more.
The event’s featured speakers and presentations included:
• Kevin Riddell (LMC Automotive) — Electric Vehicles: Answering the Call to Reach Carbon Neutrality
• Matthew Marks (SABIC) — Plastics and Composites Roadmap for the Automotive Industry (including Circular Economy)
• Dhanendra Nagwanshi and Volker Plehn (SABIC) — Driving EV Innovation with Plastics?
• Michael Fischer (ENGEL) — Advanced Injection Molding Technologies for Future Automotive Trends
• Hinrich Woebcken (Blue Lagoon Capital) — Impact of Automotive Transformational Trends on Future Products and Production
• Eric Bach (Lucid Motors) — Lucid Is Creating a New Virtuous Circle of Energy Efficiency for EVs
• Alper Kiziltas (Ford Motor Company) — Sustainable Electric Vehicle Design: A Materials View
• Larry Erickson (Magna Exteriors) — The Future of Vehicle Exteriors: How Materials, Markets and People will Shape What Comes Next
• Sandy Munro (Munro & Associates) — Insights on the Design and Engineering of EVs.
Increasing EV demand presents new injection molding opportunities
The central focus of this year’s trend.scaut conference was how the increasing demand for electric vehicles presents a wealth of opportunities for molders — and a need for innovative applications.
“One of the EV applications we’re showcasing here is one we did at K 2019 in collaboration with Leonhard Kurz Stiftung & Co. KG and other design partners,” said Michael Fischer, head of business development automotive technologies for ENGEL. “It’s a new front panel design for electric vehicles that combines in-mold decorating and polyurethane film over-molding in one cell, which not only provides superior surface quality needed for EV but is also extremely energy-saving and efficient.”
Dhanendra Nagwanshi, EV Batteries & Electricals Leader for SABIC, discussed how plastics can drive innovation in the electric vehicle market.
“Designing EVs requires different thinking,” Nagwanshi stated. “For battery packs, this includes removing weight and cost while improving performance and enhancing safety.”
“One solution we have been developing is use of non-halogenated flame retardant and glass-filled polypropylene resin for EV battery pack trays. Despite the size of this application — about 5 feet long — it’s 40% lighter than metal when constructed with thermoplastic,” he explained. “It also has integrated cooling channels, which eliminate the need for a separate complex cooling plate. This part in thermoplastic can also offer enhanced thermal insulation and electrical isolation, which presents tremendous value compared to a more complex multi-piece metal tray design.”
Electric vehicles are the future of sustainability
Sustainability by way of electric vehicles, particularly with recent events and economic conditions, was also at the forefront of the discussion.
“Public opinion has turned against the internal combustion engine,” stated Owner and CEO of Munro & Associates Sandy Munro. “The focus should be squarely on EV applications. Pick your customers with care. Don’t forget to consider small companies with new technologies.”
He also explained how molders and manufacturers can follow the growth in demand for electric vehicles.
“Weight, engineered efficiency, friction, and drag are four key areas where innovations in composites and molding can create mutually beneficial opportunities for automotive manufacturers and molders alike,” he said.
Since 2009, ENGEL, manufacturer of injection molding machines, has regularly held the trend.scaut forum, alternating between different continents. The next trend.scaut event to be held in North America is set for 2025.
Exhibits in action
Following the presentations, SABIC’S Automotive Development Center opened its doors for the afternoon so that guests were able to view eight exhibit stations throughout their facility.