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The winners will be announced on Nov. 2, 2022, during the 51st SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Gala.

Stephen Moore

October 25, 2022

7 Min Read
automotive innovation awards finalist
Image courtesy of SPE

The Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) has announced the finalists for its 51st annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala, the oldest and largest recognition event (established in 1970) in the automotive and plastics industries. Nominations were first subjected to a pre-qualification review, then the most innovative nominations (category finalists) were forwarded to the blue-ribbon judging round. Selected finalists are as follows.

Category: Additive Manufacturing

Spoiler Closeout Seal

  • OEM Make and Model: 2002 General Motors Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon

  • Tier Supplier/Processor: HP Inc. and AMT Ltd./GKN Additive (Forecast 3D)

  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: BASF Corp./GKN Additive (Forecast 3D)

  • Material/Process: BASF SE Ultrasint TPU01 TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane)/HP Multi Jet Fusion 5200 Series

Close out seal-Automotive Innovation Awards

The powder-bed fusion process was used to source, print, process, and install 60,000 TPU spoiler closeout seals to meet 10 weeks of production as a bridge solution while hard tooling was being produced. Innovative vapor polishing and drying processes cleared a bottleneck, halved production time, and were used to finish parts, eliminating the need for post-print dyeing. The seals close out gaps on the left and right sides of the rear spoiler, improving finish and fuel efficiency.


Category: Aftermarket and Limited Edition/Specialty Vehicles

EVSE Charging Accessory

  • OEM Make and Model: 2023 General Motors GMC Hummer EV

  • Tier Supplier/Processor: CTEK Inc.

  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Sabic/NA

  • Material/Process: Lexan EXL9134, CFR7431 PC (polycarbonate), silicone co-polymer/injection molding

EVSE Charging Accessory

Eliminating the need to paint flame-retardant plastics for weatherability, this one-piece EV charging cover uses two grades of a PC/silicone co-polymer. The first shot is a high-gloss black and the second is a clear, hard coated lens. Both grades are UL94 V-0 and 5VA approved in thin wall sections and offer excellent low-temperature ductility, weatherability, scratch/mar, and aesthetics. Eliminating paint saved $3/part while reducing the CO2 footprint.


Category: Body Exterior

Flow Through Spoiler

  • OEM Make and Model: 2023 General Motors Co. Cadillac Lyriq

  • Tier Supplier/Processor: ABC INOAC Exterior Systems

  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Trinseo PLC/Delta Technologies, Custom Machine Inc.

  • Material/Process: Pulse 2000EZ PC/ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene), PU/injection molding

Flow Through Spoiler

A specially designed flow-through spoiler modifies airflow at the rear of the vehicle, keeping window glass clean, improving rear visibility, eliminating the need for a rear wiper and motor assembly, and lowering vehicle mass 0.24 kg. The two-piece bonded assembly eliminates an internal bracket, improving aesthetics and reducing dimensional variance while still meeting 1,200-N upward force requirements. Additionally, piece costs were reduced $8/vehicle and tooling avoidance saved $250,000.


Category: Body Interior

Integrated Console Map Pocket Assembly

  • OEM Make and Model: 2023 Ford Motor Co., Ford F-250, and F-350 Super Duty

  • Tier Supplier/Processor: Summit Polymers Inc.

  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Advanced Composites Inc., ExxonMobil Corp., Sabic, and The Materials Group/Commercial Tool Group

  • Material/Process: TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin), PC and PP (polypropylene)/injection molding

Integrated Console Map Pocket Assembly

To address the need for model differentiation while managing costs and providing flexibility, this center console structure was split in two pieces that are mechanically fastened. The Class A front retainer provides a map pocket and structure for the media bin and cupholder assemblies. The structural rear retainer manages armrest and floor-attachment loads. Producing two smaller tools was less expensive than a single large one and welding was eliminated. The approach also reduced assembly issues, shortened assembly time, facilitated serviceability, lowered mass, and saved $457,000 in tooling avoidance and $2/piece cost.


Category: Chassis/Hardware

Exhaust Actuator Heat Shield

  • OEM Make and Model: 2020 General Motors Chevrolet Corvette

  • Tier Supplier/Processor: Tenneco/Van Norman Molding

  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Sumitomo Bakelite North America/Granby Mold

  • Material/Process: MPC-5218 Phenolic–GF (glass fiber)/compression molding

Exhaust Actuator Heat Shield

Desert testing showed that internal electronics for the vehicle’s exhaust valve actuator were over temperature. A hybrid composite shield was developed combining thin stamped aluminum skins with Grip Metal hooks (controlled for size, curl, and hook density) to retain a core of high-temperature glass-reinforced phenolic. Aluminum’s high thermal reflectivity and phenolic’s thermal insulation, high compressive strength and chemical stability, high inherent flame retardance, and heat resistance >300°C lowered temperature on the electronics by 50°C while reducing mass 55% and indirect costs by $10/vehicle. A special compression tool combines both materials.


Category: Electric and Autonomous Vehicle Systems

High Damping AC Compressor Bracket

  • OEM Make and Model: 2023 General Motors Cadillac Lyriq

  • Tier Supplier/Processor: Vibracoustic SE/Spencer Plastics

  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Ascend Performance Materials/Allegiance Mold

  • Material/Process: Vydyne AVS 4AC5 BK0826 PA (polyamide) GF/injection molding

High Damping AC Compressor Bracket

Reducing cabin noise is a new challenge offered by EVs. This structural AC compressor bracket represents the auto industry’s first use of a novel, high-damping, semi-aromatic polyamide co-polymer specifically developed to address this issue. Bracket excitation was reduced by 10 dB and audible cabin noise was lowered 7 dB (80%). The fast cycling material can be dropped into conventional PA 66 tooling without modification.


Category: Materials

Instrument Panel Skin

  • OEM Make and Model: 2022 SAIC General Motors Chevrolet Monza

  • Tier Supplier/Processor: Yangfeng Automotive Interior Systems

  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Orinko Advanced Plastics and Kraton Corp./Yanfeng Automotive Interior Systems

  • Material/Process: TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) and SEBS (styrene ethylene butadiene styrene)/injection molding

Instrument Panel Skin

A new top pad skin material was engineered to offer extra-high flow to enable 0.8- to 1.0-mm skin thicknesses. The material is 100% recyclable and offers high UV and thermal stability, yet provides good cold-temperature ductility for stable passenger airbag deployment. By replacing slush molding with injection molding, the carbon footprint is halved, weight is reduced by 20%, cycle time is reduced from 10 minutes to 90 seconds, and tooling lead times were reduced by 33%. The material is available in multiple colors; graining and a water-based coating improve haptics.


Category: Powertrain

Start/Stop Accumulator Piston

  • OEM Make and Model: 2020 General Motors Chevrolet Equinox

  • Tier Supplier/Processor: Borg Warner/NMC Dynaplas

  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: DSM Engineering Materials/NMC Dynaplas

  • Material/Process: Stanyl TW241F12 PA 46/injection molding

Start_Stop Accumulator Piston

By switching from aluminum to 60% GR-PA 46 on an accumulator piston, two polymer wear bushings were eliminated while lowering wear, and cost and mass were reduced by 47% and 70%, respectively. The highly efficient part design met all performance requirements for fatigue, thermal cycling (-40 to 140°C), chemical resistance, wear, creep, and fluid pressure/spring force resistance.


Category: Process/Assembly/Enabling Technologies

Thick Optical Lens

  • OEM Make and Model: 2020 General Motors Chevrolet Silverado

  • Tier Supplier/Processor: Valeo Lighting Systems

  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Trinseo/NA

  • Material/Process: Altuglas PMMA (acrylic)/two-shot rotary injection molding

Thick Optical Lens

To injection mold this high-precision, >30-mm-thick PMMA low-beam projection lens with optical microstructures at low cost and high volumes, a multishot, multilayer, multicavity approach was used. Controlling cavity pressure was critical to achieving tight dimensional control and optical performance. A complex, multicavity tool with multiple stations allowed lens thickness to be successively built up without long cycle times or risk of warpage. Thanks to new simulation tools, all prototyping was done virtually, reducing cost and increasing speed to market. Versus glass, mass was reduced by 58%, less energy was used, and the CO2 footprint was lowered by 20%.


Category: Sustainability

Reclaimed TPO/Foam System

  • OEM Make and Model: 2020 General Motors Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra

  • Tier Supplier/Processor: Inteva Products

  • Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Inteva Products/NA

  • Material/Process: Inteather TGTPO ECO TPO/extrusion and repellitizing; co-extrusion of TPO sheets; vacuum forming and injection graining; press lamination; and assembly

Reclaimed TPO_Foam System

Thanks to a patented recycling process, post-industrial recyclate bilaminate scrap comprised of TPO skins attached to cross-linked olefin foam is given new life in the same interior trim applications without sacrificing quality or performance. An additive package eliminates/binds/deactivates reactive residuals and trapped gases from foam. Just on this program, around 680 tonnes of TPO resin is reclaimed annually, reducing landfilled scrap 93%, replacing 50% of prime TPO, and lowering CO2 emissions and energy usage 48% each.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and a proud dachshund owner.

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