A Case for Plastics: GM/Delphi Audio Unit Takes Top Award
The Society of Plastics Engineers has announced its Automotive Innovation Awards, which are given to new plastic applications on production vehicles.
The grand prize went to the plastic-case radio with insert-molded electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) shielding system used in General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet and GMC full-size trucks. Delphi Corp. developed the process and supplied the audio unit. MRC Polymers supplied the material.
The application, which also won the process/assembly/enabling technologies category, integrates 29 patented technologies. Embedding EMC shielding into a plastic case and an efficient assembly process reduces cycle time and eliminates 29 screws per radio, trimming 1.2 lbs-about 22% of overall weight-compared to traditional systems that use sheet metal cases.
The production process insert-molds a metallic-mesh Faraday cage into a reprocessed 16% glass-reinforced polycarbonate/ABS material. No structural modifications to the vehicle were required.
Other category winners were:
Body Exterior: a spoiler with an integrated CHMSL assembly used in GM's Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon. ABC Group supplied the system and SABIC Innovative Plastics provided the PC/ABS blend with a proprietary nanofiller. The injection-molded, thermoplastic horizontal body panel is described as meeting stringent gap requirements by managing a low coefficient of thermal expansion while maintaining heat, impact and surface quality.
Body Interior: plastic HVAC mounts in GM's 2010 Chevy Camaro. Delphi was the lead supplier, using injection-molded 20%-talc-filled polypropylene supplied by Spartech Polycom in place of multiple rubber isolators to soften and quiet fan-motor vibrations. A resonant frequency feature allowed for NVH tuning late in the vehicle-development cycle with minimum impact on mold tooling, according to Delphi.
Chassis & Hardware: Flexible plastic coupling used for the vehicle's electric power steering replaced a similar stainless-steel coupling with broached splines and grease in Fiat's new 500 compact car. The part, which was supplied by Nexteer Automotive and Forteq Group, features ribs that connect and transfer torque from one rotating shaft to another, which in turn strokes axially and stretches and compresses the coupling. The system replaces traditional hydraulic systems, reducing weight by 17% and cost by half, while boosting fuel economy by 4%. DSM Engineering Plastics supplies the heat-stabilized, 50%-glass-reinforced polyamide that is formed via injection molding.
Environmental: The Denso-supplied radiator end tank on the new Toyota Camry sedan is made from DuPont's new nylon 6/10 material, which consists of 40% caster bean oil. The part is described as the first use of a bio-plastic in a chemically aggressive and mechanically demanding automotive application.
Materials: The lower door panel inner, sourced from Draxlmaier Group, of BMW's flagship 7 Series sedan is compression molded from a new, lightweight, acrylic copolymer composite supplied by BASF (resin) and J. Dittrich & Sohne (needled fiber mat). The resin matrix acts as a thermoplastic initially, allowing for production of prepreg/semi-finished blanks, then cross-links at temperatures above 120 C to produce a durable thermoset. The resulting composites have very high fiber loadings-70% in this application-yielding lightweight parts with high stiffness in thin walls.
Performance/Customization: An illuminated door-sill insert in Ford's Mustang and Lincoln MKZ and MKT sedans uses a single light-emitting diode. The application combines several plastic technologies that allow for a variety of illuminated graphics-including multiple colors-customized via laser. The system's construction allows the design to be adapted to new vehicles in weeks rather than months. Innotec Group served as the system integrator, while Altuglas, SABIC Innovative Plastics and Serigraph provided the ABS bi-laminate, polycarbonate and acrylic.
Powertrain: Dana supplied a thermoplastic oil pan designed to better withstand road chemicals and stone impact, thanks to a new material and ribbing configuration. The part debuts in Ford's new 6.7-liter PowerStroke V-8 diesel engine in the Ford F-Series Super-Duty pickup truck. BASF's 35%-glass-reinforced nylon 6 optimizes impact strength at temperatures as low as -40 C and is not affected by calcium chloride, thanks to a proprietary modification package. A waffle-design ribbing pattern can withstand multiple impacts. The oil pan also features what Dana describes as the industry's first plastic drain plug, which has a cam-lock design that prevents over-torquing. The part is 2.1 lbs lighter than the steel pan it replaces and is 30% less costly than cast aluminum. Using plastic allows for the integration of additional components such as oil sensors and baffles that Dana says isn't possible with stamped steel.
Safety: Ford's Kuga compact crossover vehicle with thermoplastic fenders is said to be the first utility vehicle that meets Europe's pedestrian-protection requirements for head impact in a single part, eliminating the need for secondary brackets under the fender that are required with steel designs. Supplied by SABIC, the modified polyphenilether/polyamide reduces both weight and cost by 50% vs. steel. Montaplast is the system supplier.
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A look at the 7 Series Carbon Core.
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