SABIC's Innovative Plastics business today announced that two automotive applications molded from its broad portfolio of thermoplastic materials received top honors at the 2011 Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Automotive Innovation Awards competition - including the coveted Hall of Fame award and the overall Grand Award.
In addition, five other applications were recognized as finalists in other categories. These innovative components - ranging from the world's first all-plastic door module and a lower leg protection system made with sustainable material to a lighter-weight instrument panel - demonstrate the exceptional scope and diversity of SABIC's thermoplastic portfolio. They also underscore the many major contributions of SABIC resin technologies in addressing key industry trends and helping customers achieve top automotive industry goals of weight and cost reduction, design freedom and improved safety.
The awards were presented on Nov. 9, at the 41st annual SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Gala in Livonia, Mich.
"Innovative ways to produce parts on cars are an important factor for OEMs to maintain a strong competitive position in the automotive industry and effectively respond to global trends and challenges," said Gregory A. Adams, vice president, Automotive, Innovative Plastics. "We continually strive to deliver differentiated material solutions that meet customers' changing needs. We are honored to be associated with so many industry leaders who are raising the bar in automotive application design. We are pleased that our materials are delivering added value to our customers and helping to enable innovation and breakthroughs in the industry."
Winning Applications Demonstrate Versatility of SABIC Portfolio
The first all-plastic structural door-hardware module, also known as the SuperPlug, from Inteva Products, LLC (formerly Delphi Interior & Lighting Systems), was the Hall of Fame winner. It replaced 40 separate metal parts with a single gas-assisted injection-molded part made with SABIC's Xenoy* 30-percent glass-filled polycarbonate/polybutylene terephthalate (PC/PBT) resin.
"The prestigious Hall of Fame award acknowledges the major contribution Xenoy resin has made to the global automotive industry," said Venkatakrishnan Umamaheswaran (UV), director of marketing, engineering and technology, Automotive, Innovative Plastics. "The door module concept began with Xenoy PC/PBT resin and has been widely adapted in the industry as the material of choice for this application. As a top global supplier of advanced materials solutions, SABIC continues to dedicate resources and expertise to other innovations that meet the changing needs of our automotive customers."
The SuperPlug door module reduces costs by 10 percent, reduces weight by 3.3 lb per door/13.2 lb per vehicle and simplifies assembly by allowing the module to be placed within the door on the assembly line. This door module program paved the way for door modules across the industry.
The overall Grand Award winner - also the Process/Assembly/Enabling Technologies category award winner - is the Ford Escape/Ford Kuga instrument panel made by Faurecia using Trexel MuCell microcellular foam injection molding technology and SABIC STAMAX 20 percent long glass fiber (LGF) polypropylene (PP). This application reduces weight by 1 lb, reduces cycle time by 15 percent and lowers cost by about $3 per vehicle compared to an instrument panel molded with a standard injection molding process. The MuCell process uses less resin and energy than traditional injection molding, helping to increase the sustainability of the instrument panel.
Finalists Deliver Advances in Pedestrian Safety, Fuel Efficiency and Sustainability
The five finalists showcase the advantages of SABIC materials in improving safety, increasing fuel efficiency and enabling hybrid-vehicle designs.
The Ford C-Max lower leg protector, a finalist this year in the Safety category, features an undertray with uniquely designed spring-back action to help reduce knee bending and resulting injury during an impact with a pedestrian. The undertray is molded by Faurecia from SABIC's Xenoy iQ* PC/PBT-based resin, which incorporates up to 60 percent up-cycled post-consumer plastic waste and helps to increase the sustainability of the vehicle. This approach also reduces mass by providing tuned stiffness without the need for additional steel spoiler supports.
Sustainable Xenoy iQ resin is also used to mold the upper load-path energy absorber for the Range Rover Evoque sport utility vehicle, which was also a finalist this year in the Safety category. This application is a one-piece plastic fascia reinforcement with pedestrian safety functionality and is designed to meet the challenges of lower-leg impact protection in a vehicle with a higher bumper. This part, molded by Magna International, integrates five functions, including air intake, headlamp support and grille attachments.
To reduce weight, Sanyo Electric molds the battery module for the Volkswagen Touareg hybrid - a finalist in the Powertrain category - from SABIC's Noryl* modified polyphenylene ether (PPE) resin featuring non-halogenated flame retardance and compliance with the UL 94 vertical burn test. This tough resin can withstand exposure to chemicals (particularly electrolytes) and high voltage. By replacing die-cast aluminum, Noryl resin reduces weight by 48 percent, provides design freedom to integrate air temperature control, and eliminates costs associated with stamping and machining aluminum.
The world's first structural plastic technology (SPT) spoiler, a finalist in the Body Exterior category, features SABIC's Geloy* polycarbonate/acrylonitrile styrene acrylate (PC/ASA) resin and is molded by ABC Group. The Geloy resin is foamed at the corners using SPT and a chemical foaming agent via gas-counterpressure molding to accomplish a thicker, 0.26 inches (6.5 mm), wall section for a challenging tooling condition while maintaining studio Class A surface quality. Although the spoiler on the 2012 Ford Edge Aero CUV is larger than the 2011 model, the weight decreased by 1.3 lb using this approach.
Ford's Lincoln MKT Town Car (livery model) was a finalist in the Interiors category for its patented rear seat vanity mirror and dome lamp combination. This component, molded by Daimay NA Automotive, Inc., uses a single light emitting diode (LED) circuit to reduce power consumption and integrates two previously separate parts into one. This integration saves $4 and 2.02 lb per vehicle. The application was injection molded using SABIC's Cycoloy* PC/acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) resin.