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Plastics innovation in automotive recognized

In spite of broader challenges facing the automotive industry, particularly in North America, the 39th-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition moves forward this Thursday, Nov. 12, with approximately the same number of entrants, over 50, as a year ago, and with this field displaying a greater geographic reach. According to the Society of Plastics Engineers' (SPE) Automotive Div.

) Automotive Div. (Troy, MI), which organizes the annual event, 2009's nominations can be found on commercial vehicles produced on four continents: North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

After a pre-qualification round and two rounds of judging, finalists were selected in nine different categories, with winners in each of those and a Grand Award Winner to be announced Nov. 12 during the Automotive Innovation Awards Gala, held at Burton Manor in Livonia, MI.

In terms of OEM representation, Ford Motor Co. led the way, with 15 entrants, followed by General Motors with eight. After that Fiat, Toyota, BMW, Chrysler, Volkswagen, Daimler, Hyundai, and Kia all had one entry make it to the final round. In the body exterior category, Ford's 2010 model-year Taurus, which was also named winner of the SPE Vehicle Engineering Team Award, had three parts nominated, including a three-layer extruded outer-belt weather strip using thermoplastic vulcanizate from ExxonMobil Chemical; injection molded weatherstrip corner overlays made with glass-filled DuPont polyamide; and an injection molded headlamp bezel using Sabic Innovative Plastics polycarbonate (PC). Also featured in that category: an injection molded Sabic PC spoiler for the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon.

In the body interior category, there are four nominees, including a tufted polyethylene terephthalate (PET) carpet for the 2010 GM Commodore sedan; plastic post isolation for Chevy's Camaro injection molded by Delphi from talc-filled polypropylene; an injection molded talc-filled PP mold and fold cluster attachment bracket from Automotive Components Holdings (ACH) for the 2009 Ford F-Series; and a soy-foam based acoustical headliner from Magna that's used in the 2010 Ford Escape and Edge vehicles, as well as the Lincoln MKX.

In the chassis and hardware category, the three nominees included an electric power-steering flexible coupling injection molded from DSM glass-filled polyamide (PA) for the 2010 Fiat 500; a thermoplastic urethane (TPU) load-management striker cap made from BASF resin by Delphi for the 2009 Cadillac CTS V-Series; and a below-belt door-glass retaining bracket on the 2010 Ford Taurus molded from Dow PA 6/6 by Henneges.

In the environmental category, the 2010 Toyota Camry's radiator end tank, which is molded by Denso from bio-derived (castor-bean oil) PA from DuPont was nominated, as was quarter trim bin for the 2010 Ford Flex injection molded from a wheat-straw reinforced PP compound from A. Schulman, and an extruded halogen-free wire coating on a series for GM vehicles using polyphenylene oxide (PPO) from Sabic.

In the materials category, nominees included a PC/acrylonitrile styrene acrylate (ASA) alloy from Sabic used for molded-in-color metallic interior panes on the 2010 Ford Mustang; a natural-fiber preg composite from BASF (resin) and J. Dittrich & Söhne GmbH (fiber mat) used in the door panel of the 2008 BMW 7 series; and Ticona Engineering Polymers long-glass-fiber polypropylene (PP) console side panel used in Ford's Lincoln MKT.

Performance and customization had three entrants: thermoformed acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) partitions for GM and Ford vans; an illuminated door-sill insert for Ford vehicles using multiple processes and multiple materials from Sabic, Altuglas, and Serigraph; and a cored-carbon composite air splitter and dive plane from Plasan Carbon Composites for Chrysler's 2010 Viper.

In powertrain applications, a blowmolded intercooler airduct, created by Röchling Automotive and Leifers GmbH from Ticona glass-reinforced polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) for use in the 2008 Volkswagen PQ35 was nominated, as was a fluid-filter module injection molded from Lanxess glass-filled PA by Mahle Filtersysteme GmbH for the 2010 Mercedes C-Class; an oil pan injection molded by Dana for Ford's turbo diesel systems using and impact-modified glass-filled PA from BASF; and timing-chain tensioner bars made by Mayfair Plastics for GM's HFV6 engines using DSM PAs, both filled and unfilled.

The process/assembly/enabling category's finalists were: Hyundai, for its two-shot invisible air-bag door, which utilized twin-shot injection molding of a Multibase talc-filled PP; plastic-case radio with insert molded EMC shielding made for GM by Delphi using MRC's PC/ABS alloy; and molded-in faux stitching created by ACH from BASF spray polyurethane for the door panels of the 2010 Ford Taurus.

The safety category nominees include a folding head restraint insert molded with BASF PA for the Kia Sorrento's stowable rear seats; bumper-reinforcement system for pedestrian safety on the Ford Kuga make by Plastal Germany from PC/polybutylene terephthalate supplied by Sabic; and a pedestrian protection compliant front fender, also for the Ford Kuga, molded by Montaplast using Sabic materials.

PlasticsToday will report on the various winners of these categories following the awards ceremony. - [email protected]

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