The first high-volume pickup truck application to use an all-plastic system to fill, store and deliver diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) was the 2010 Grand Award winner in the SPE Automotive Innovation Awards competition.

Multiple materials and molding processes are featured on this system, which is designed to meet stringent diesel-emissions requirements.

The system is used on the 2011 Ford Super Duty Pickup and was developed by Ford, Robert Bosch and Kautex Textron GmbH and Co., along with several processors and material suppliers.

Ninety percent of the components in the assembly are polymeric, including the filler pipe (which requires no clamps), plastic supply module with integrated pump, reverting valve, pressure sensor, heater and filtration unit.

Additional plastic components in the system include heated intake reservoir (with integral heater), level sensor, filter and temperature sensor. The only other type of material that could have withstood the DEF fluid would be stainless steel, which would have been seven times heavier and cost 40 percent more.

The winners of the 40th-annual SPE Automotive Innovation Awards competition, the oldest and largest recognition event in the automotive industry, were announced on Nov. 9 by the Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers.

After a pre-qualification round, surviving nomination teams presented their applications before a panel of automotive and plastics industry experts during two days of judging on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Finalists selected from each category advanced to the Blue Ribbon Judging on Oct. 11 where category and Grand Award winners were selected.

“We were really pleased with the number of nominations we received this year, the diversity of automakers represented, and the quality of innovation they displayed,” said Jeff Helms, 2010 Automotive Innovation Awards program chairman.

Finalists and winners are:

CATEGORY: Body Exterior

Category winner: Dual Material Sealing With PIT Technology
OEM and Model: Ford 2011 model year Ford C-Max Compact Cardd

Tier Supplier/Processor: Röchling Automotive Röchling Automotive Italia

Material: Polypropylene (PP) and Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)

Process:  Projectile-injection technology (PIT).


Category Finalist: Nameplate Badge
OEM and Model: Ford 2010 F150 Pickup

Tier Supplier/Processor: Tribar Manufacturing

Materials Suppliers/Toolmaker: SABIC Innovative Plastics and Ashland Distribution/Granby Tool Co.

Materials: Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate (ASA)/Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

Process: Injection Molding

Description: This molded-in-color ASA and ABS design provides the appearance of a paint-over-chrome badge without use of paint, leading to a significant cost savings and quality improvement. Ford received a $1 million direct cost savings on its F150 pickups and there were significant environmental benefits by eliminating paint.

Category Finalist:  Pillar Appliqué
OEM and Model: Ford 2011 C-Max Compact Car

Tier Supplier/Processor: Dura Automotive and Windsor Mold

Materials Suppliers: EVONIK, BASF, and SABIC Innovative Plastics

Materials: Acrylic and ABS

Process: Injection Molding

Description: This complex one-piece pillar appliqué uses vertical, two-shot rotational stack molding to efficiently produce acrylic/ABS appliqués with integrated glass-run channels and polyurethane (PUR) seals in a single part. The design eliminates tape, and assures precise fit and minimal appliqué-to-glass offset for world-class craftsmanship. Overmolding produces a significantly stronger part, eliminating breakage and the need for impact

Category Finalist: Integrated Bumper Energy Management Device
OEM and Model: Ford 2011 model year Ford Edge Cross-Over Utility Vehicle

Tier Supplier/Processor: Flex-N-Gate Corp.

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: LyondellBasell/Concours Mold Inc.

Material: Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)

Process: Injection Molding

Description: This flexible TPO bumper fascia incorporates energy management into a one-piece design, providing world-class appearance, structural integrity and impact energy management, while reducing weight 50 percent, direct costs 20 percent and indirect costs $1/vehicle.

Category Finalist: Bright Belt Weather Strips With High Luster
OEM and Model: Ford 2010 Fiesta Subcompact

Tier Supplier/Processor: Cooper-Standard Automotive Inc.

Description: Stainless steel was replaced by an injection-molded plated ABS cap that snaps into place on the EPDM outer-belt weather-strip, providing a bright, body-in-white finish, while still ensuring functionality. In addition, the change saved an estimated $350,000 direct and $350,000 indirect cost annually, while reducing weight 428 grams per door.
All-Plastic Exhaust System Tops SPE Auto Awards”Al all-plastic diesel exhaust system is the Grand Winner in the 2010 SPE Automotive Innovation Awards competition. Source: Automotive Division/Society of Plastics Engineers”

CATEGORY: Body Interior

Category Winner: Self-Reinforced Airbag Door System
OEM and Model: PSA Peugeot Citroën C5 Sedan

Tier Supplier/Processor: Visteon Corp.

Material Supplier: LyondellBasell and Propex Fabrics

Material: Reinforced polypropylene (PP)

Process: Injection Molding

Description: This is the auto industry’s first airbag door system that integrates an all-PP construction (PP fiber-reinforced PP). As such, it is fully recyclable and does not require typical post-mold scoring and weakening of the door flap. The injection-molded door system is the lightest, least-expensive system solution, since additional components and post-mold operations (to enable the door flap to open) are eliminated. The resulting system reduced weight versus competitive systems and saved approximately $5 per part versus welded systems.

Category Finalist: Heated Steering-Wheel System

OEM and Model: Hyundai-Kia Motors Co. 2010 model year Kia Optima Sedan

Tier Supplier/Processor: LG Hausys, Ltd.

Material: Polyurethane

Process: Coating

Description: This heated steering-wheel system uses reaction-injection molded polyurethane and a unique sprayed-on, silver-impregnated coating-based heating element, which was developed especially for this application. Heating is achieved by the silver-based specialty coating rather than traditionally wrapped sewn-in heating wire. Not only does the new system reduce weight by 50 percent (100 g) and reduce tooling and assembly steps, but it also leads to a 5 percent direct cost savings. In addition, it reduces risks of fire (since the unit operates below 80C), produces more soothing, deep-penetrating far-infrared heat, and also provides antibacterial properties.

Category Finalist: Interior Trim With 3-D Appearance

OEM and Model: Ford 2011 Explorer SUV

Tier Supplier/Processor: Johnson Controls Inc.

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Dow Automotive/ ToolPlas Systems Inc.

Material: ABS

Process: Injection Molding

Description: A new decorative option and an industry first allowed a technical pattern to be injection molded into an interior trim component, preventing distortion in the pattern in deep draw areas via graining of the substrate rather than incorporating patterned paint film. This provides greater decorative flexibility for the substrate to be molded-in-color, painted, or filmed-all from the same tool. This led to a 10-20 percent variable cost savings due to use of non-patterned films, and 100 percent avoidance of multiple substrate tools for different decorative finishes, allowing easy and cost-effective model differentiation.

CATEGORY: Chassis and Hardware

Category Winner: Integrated Carrier Rail For Rear Plastic Door Module
OEM and Model: Hyundai Motors Co. 2010 Sonata Sedan

Tier Supplier/Processor: PYEONG HWA Automotive and Arvin Meritor/Arkal Automotive

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: SABIC Innovative Plastics/Aalbers Tool and Mold

Material: Long-Fiber Thermoplastic (LFT)-PP

Process: Injection Molding

Description: Previous plastic door module designs had separate metal rails that are attached to the module after molding. This innovative design has the window-regulator guide rail molded as part of the plastic door module. Additionally, wire-harness clips are normally a snap-in feature but in this design are integrated into the module. And the drum housing, location pin, and door-handle bracket are also integrated into the design.

Category Finalist: Structural Composite Radiator Support
OEM and Model: Ford 2010 model year Taurus Sedan

Tier Supplier/Processor: Magna International Inc.

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Dow Automotive and Composites One/Century Tool and Gage

Material: LFT-PP

Process: Compression Molding

Description: This structural composite radiator support is a single part capable of passing a 5,340 N hood-latch pull test, while saving cost and weight. Compression molded of direct-(inline-compounded) LFT-PP/glass and a glass-mat overlay (for extra strength), the part reduced weight 33 percent, direct costs 20 percent and also lowered part count, materials handling, and assembly time and replaced coated steel and cast magnesium parts.

Category Finalist: Engine Cradle Mount

OEM and Model: Ford 2011 model year Focus Sedan and C-Max Compact Car

Tier Supplier/Processor: Hutchinson Paulstra/ThyssenKrupp Tallent Ltd.

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: DuPont Automotive/SPLAST Sp

Material: Thermoplastic Elastomer Ether Ester (TEEE)

Process: Injection Molding

Description: In this application, an injection-molded TEEE thermoplastic elastomer replaced thermoset rubber thanks
to the unique properties of the elastomer and a post-mold forming step that used controlled insertion to achieve proper compression. This design also takes advantage of the elastomer’s ability to take a new material property set in order to meet hysteresis requirements. Cost savings of 15 percent were achieved, and cycle time was reduced 90 percent versus thermoset rubber.

Category Finalist: High-Duty Lightweight Engine Mounts

OEM and Model: BMW AG 2009 model year BMW 550i and 750i Sedans

Tier Supplier/Processor: ContiTech Vibration Control

Material Supplier: BASF

Material: 50 percent-Glass-Reinforced (GR) Polyamide (PA, Nylon) 6/6

Process: Injection Molding

Description: For the first time, a highly loaded transmission cross-beam with integrated hydraulic mounts was achieved in a lightweight plastic design thanks to use of injection-molded, 50 percent-glass-reinforced PA 6/6. Replacing rubber/steel and rubber/aluminum, the nylon assembly was designed to meet the rigorous requirements of this application with regard to acoustics, crash, fatigue, and high-temperature stability. The result was a 50 percent weight savings, as well as in-house production integration at the systems supplier, leading to further reductions in logistics and transportation costs.

Category: Environmental

Category Winner: Recycled Polyol For Seat Foam
OEM and Model: Chrysler Group LLC 2011 model year Chrysler Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV

Tier Supplier/Processor: Magna Seating of America/MS Chemical Technologies (Magna)

Material Supplier: InfiChem Polymers

Material: Aromatic Polyether Polyols (Repolymerized Polyurethane (PUR)

Process: Foamed Urethane

Description: This is the first industrial production application of flexible urethane seat foams produced with polyols manufactured from post-industrial scrap foam. A two-stage, closed-loop recycling process converts the scrap foam back into a polyol product, resulting in zero waste going to the landfill and allowing up to 10 percent recycled content in new parts. A unique process to reformulate the reclaimed polyol to meet OEM specs was also developed for this application. Neither weight nor direct cost were negatively impacted and an estimated $348,000  indirect cost savings was achieved.
All-Plastic Exhaust System Tops SPE Auto Awards”Polyamide is used in a transmission cross-beam with integrated hydraulic mounts. Source: Automotive Division/Society of Plastics Engineers”

Category Finalist: Bio-Based TPU Over Recycled ABS Tambour Door
OEM and Model: Ford 2011 Lincoln MKZ Luxury Sedan

Tier Supplier/Processor: International Automotive Components/Leon Plastics Inc.

Material Supplier: Merquinsa and ACI Auto Group

Material: Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), Polycarbonate (PC), and ABS

Process: Injection Molding


Description: This is the auto industry’s first use of a bio-based TPU, which was injection overmolded on top of a PC-ABS derived from 100 percent post-industrial scrap. Both materials were a drop-in replacement on the tambour door. While weight was the same, a direct cost savings of $0.41/part was achieved while making the application both more environmentally friendly and ensuring 100 percent recyclability at end of part life.

Category: Materials

Category Winner:Turbocharged Engine Cover
OEM and Model: General Motors 2010 model year GM Ecotec 2L Turbo Engine for

Cadillac CTS Luxury Sports Sedan

Tier Supplier/Processor: Camoplast Inc.

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: DuPont Automotive/Camoplast

Material: Polyamide Copolymer

Process: Injection Molding

Description: This injection-molded turbocharged engine cover features a PA copolymer with new “Shield” technology for high-heat stability while doubling the heat-aging property retention versus conventional nylons and some higher cost specialty resins. The material handles the application’s routine 180C service temperature and periodic 200C temperature excursions while offering easy processing, good surface finish, faster cycle times, and extended performance at up to 30 percent lower cost than specialty resins in this demanding under hood application.

Category Finalist: On-Engine Oil Filter Module
OEM and Model: Chrysler Group LLC Multiple/ 2010 model year Chrysler Pentastar Engines

Tier Supplier/Processor: Hengst of North America, Inc.

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: BASF Corp./VHM

Material: Hydrolysis-resistant, 35 percent GR-PA 6/6

Process: Injection Molding

Description: This material is a hydrolysis-resistant PA 6/6 modified during polymerization to increase hot glycol resistance at temperatures from 120-130C and to extend hot-air heat-aging performance. It also offers reduced swelling and improved weld strength in this application that is subject to oil and coolant contact. Because of the material’s higher heat and chemical resistance, it allowed this large, spin-on oil-filter module to be mounted directly in the engine valley, eliminating 148 parts, reducing weight 43 percent, and saving over 60 percent direct costs, plus indirect costs owing to greater reliability.

Category Finalist: Seamless Passenger-Airbag Instrument Panel Topper
OEM and Model: 2011 Ford Lincoln MKX CUV

Tier Supplier/Processor: Automotive Components Holdings, LLC/ Leon Plastics Inc.

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Canadian General Tower Ltd./Leon Plastics Inc.

Material: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Process: Extrusion/Hand Wrapping

Description: This seamless passenger-airbag IP topper molded from vinyl provides a cost-effective alternative to more costly leather and synthetic-leather materials made from urethane while providing upscale aesthetics. A special topcoat is used to provide a low-squeak finish and to improve mar resistance. Like previous materials, cut and sew stitching and hand wrapping via a bladder press (for bonding) are used to join cover material to substrate.

Category Finalist: Reactor Grade Talc-Filled Polypropylene
OEM and Model: 2011 model year Ford Explorer SUV

Tier Supplier/Processor: NYX, Inc.

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Flint Hills Resources/Toolplas Systems Inc.

Material: Reactor-Grade Talc-Filled PP

Process: Injection Molding

Description: In an industry first, reactor-grade, talc-filled PP was used to increase stiffness in a quarter-trim panel while allowing a decrease in wallstock and improvements in craftsmanship. By eliminating the burden of secondary compounding, a lower carbon footprint was achieved and the supplier gained greater lot-to-lot consistency, higher stiffness that allowed for thinner parts to be molded (reducing mass 7 percent), and saving an estimated $500,000 annually over precompounded PP grades.

Category Finalist: Low-Gloss, Soft-Feel Resin
OEM and Model: Ford 2011 model year Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX CUVs

Tier Supplier: Johnson Controls Inc.

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: LyondellBasell/Toolplas Systems Inc.

Material: Engineered Polyolefin

Description: A new low-gloss, soft-touch TPO resin was developed, offering improved aesthetics and greater durability. Previously, to achieve this combination of properties, more costly wrapping or painting of the substrate was required. The new applications, the first in North America, led to cost reductions of $4/part versus painted and $5/part versus wrapped substrates.

Category Finalist: Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-Mh) Battery Cell Enclosure
OEM and Model: BMW 2010 X6 Active Hybrid

Tier Supplier/Processor: Cobasys LLC/PM Plastics Co.

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: AsahiKasei Plastics/Arlen Tool Co. Ltd

Material: Polyphenylene Ether (PPE)/PP Copolymer

Description: This is the first use of engine coolant as a cell-cooling medium for Ni-MH battery cells for a hybrid cross-over utility vehicle. A special PPE/PP copolymer provides lightweight stiffness and creep resistance, plus seals out moisture for this battery-cell enclosure while providing resistance to alkali battery and coolant chemicals. The high-productivity resin provided excellent molding productivity in thin walls. A special film-insert molding process and secondary welding technology also were developed for this application. The unit saves an estimated 2.3 kg of weight versus alternative resins considered for the application.

CATEGORY: Performance And Customization

Category Winner: Chrome Film Thermoformed Bumpers
OEM and Model: Ford/Retro USA 2009 model year Retro USA Limited-Edition “Bullit” Mustang Sports Car

Tier Supplier/Processor: Retro USA/Orion Plastics Inc. and Brentwood Industries, Inc.

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Soliant LLC/Castek

Material: Chrome Paint Film Over TPO

Process: Thermoforming

Description: This is the largest and thinnest chrome-film thermoformed TPO fascia to date. The result is a lighter, less costly bumper cover that is more environmentally benign. Low tooling costs make this technology very attractive for quick-change transition parts at any production volume.

Category Finalist: Modular Sunvisor Storage System
OEM and Model: Ford 2012 model year Mustang Sports Car

Tier Supplier/Processor: Irvin Automotive Products, Inc./Fortis Plastics LLC

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Ticona Engineering Polymers/Yusei Holdings

Material: Polyoxymethylene (POM, Acetal)

Process: Injection Molding

Description: This modular sun visor-based storage system functions as a low-cost alternative to an overhead console to allow customer to customize storage for sunglasses, garage-door openers, coin or CD holders, organizers for pen and notepad, as well as cell phones. Interchangeable components injection molded from POM snap in and lock onto the base on the sun visor, making changeover quick and easy.
All-Plastic Exhaust System Tops SPE Auto Awards”Vacuum-sealed films are used to make smaller airbag cushion package space. Source: Automotive Division/Society of Plastics Engineers”

Category Finalist: Dual-Lens Cup-Holder Light

OEM and Model: Ford 2011 model year Explorer SUV

Tier Supplier/Processor: Chicago Miniature Lighting

Process: Injection Molding


Description: In this next-generation interior-lighting application, a one-piece design integrates primary illumination surface and show-surface lenses for improved craftsmanship, 10 percent weight savings and $0.35 cost savings versus previous 2-piece lens designs. The design also reduced assembly costs and lowered warranty issues.

CATEGORY: Powertrain

Category And Grand Award Winner: Diesel Exhaust Fluid  System – Category And Grand Award Winner

(See beginning of story for details)

Category Finalist: Thermoplastic Oil Pan Module

OEM and Model: Chrysler Group LLC 2010 model year 5.7L V8 Hemi Engine

Tier Supplier/Processor: MAHLE North America

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: BASF Corp./Integrity Tool and Mold Inc.

Material: Impact-Modified, 35 percent GR-PA 6

Process: Injection Molding

Description: A next-generation, all-plastic oil-pan module is specifically designed for this trail-rated vehicle to be able to channel oil up hill on a 60 percent grade. New levels of parts integration have incorporated the pan’s windage tray with cam scraper function, oil pickup tube, seal, fasteners and oil plug in an injection-molded assembly that is joined via vibration and infra-stake welding. The 35 percent glass-reinforced PA 6 base material was optimized for stone impact and retention of mechanicals when exposed to hot oil, cold temperatures, and road salts. Replacing stamped steel, quiet steel, and cast aluminum, the all-plastic oil pan reduces weight 41 percent, saves 50 percent on tooling costs, and eliminates 4 assembly operations.

Category Finalist: Electronic Throttle-Control Actuator
OEM and Model General Motors Co. All (Global)

Tier Supplier/Processor: Continental Automotive/Multiple

Material Supplier: DSM Engineering Plastics

Material: PA 4/6 and Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT)

Process: Injection Molding

Description: This electronic throttle-control actuator meets or exceeds all USCAR global standards and focuses on mass reduction. The unit makes use of injection molded PA 4/6 and PBT resins to produce 7 innovative plastic components: an ultra-thin-wall carbon fiber-reinforced PA 4/6 bushing, ultra-high-strength gears with outstanding dimensional stability, high-temperature electric motor brush card, and a uniquely designed cover/cap combination. In total, 43 g of weight were saved on this program versus previous designs.

CATEGORY: Process, Assembly, And Enabling Technologies

Category Winner:  High Gloss Finish Without Paint
OEM and Model: Ford 2011 model year Escape SUV

Tier Supplier/Processor: Summit Polymers

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Samsung Cheil Industries, Inc./Namdo Tool Co.

Material: PC and ABS

Process: Injection Molding

Description: These are the first molded-in-color, high-gloss, jet-black ABS instrument panel, console and door-finish panel applications produced by a modified injection process that eliminates paint while avoiding molding defects such as flow marks and knit lines. By increasing the cavity-side tool temperature to between 110 and 160C, before and during injection, then quickly cooled down before the part is injected, a highly aesthetic surface is achieved. A new grade of ABS resin was developed to deliver deep, jet-black color while also meeting head impact criteria. The application increased aesthetics, eliminated paint, improve environmental compatibility, and lowered direct costs by 20-65 percent.

Category Finalist: Multi-Functional Exchange Blow Molding Air Duct
OEM and Model: Suburu 2010 model year Legacy  Sedan and Outback CUV

Tier Supplier/Processor: Excell USA

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Channel Prime Alliance and ExxonMobil Chemical/Excell Corp.

Material: PP and PP/Thermoplastic Vulcanizate (TPV)

Process: Multi-Functional Exchange Blow Molding

Description: This multi-functional-exchange blow-molded air duct integrates the resonator, brackets and pipe in a single step using a combination of hard HDPE and soft TPV resins via a new process. The part replaced a combination of rubber hose, metal and resin ducts, the resonator, and clamps with a single part produced in a single process step where material change, wall thicknesses and inner pressure are all controlled very precisely. The application saved an estimated 30-40 percent in weight and 25-35 percent in both direct and indirect costs.

Category Finalist: Cam Cover With Integrated Variable-Valve Timing
OEM and Model: Chrysler Group LLC 2011 model year Jeep Cherokee SUV

Tier Supplier/Processor: Bruss NA

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: BASF Corp./Active Burgess

Material: 35 percent GR-PA 6/6

Process: Injection Molding

Description: This is the first time that a plastic surface has been used for a cam variable valve timing cam cover. Holding a positional tolerance of 0.5 mm and required to pass 100 percent inspection, the application required development of a special workstation with laser and optical measurement tools to verify dimensional compliance. High-flow, 35 percent-glass-reinforced PA 6/6 was injection molded for this application and replaced machined die-cast aluminum while saving 2,200 grams and 25 percent direct material costs.

Category: Safety
Category Winner: Inflatable Seatbelts

OEM and Model: Ford 2011 model year Explorer SUV

Tier Supplier: Key Safety Systems

Description: Special tubular webbing used in the shoulder portion of rear seatbelts hides an inflatable airbag that is triggered when front driver and passenger airbags are triggered, protecting second- and third-row occupants, and particularly upper- and lower-percentage occupants. During inflation, the airbag breaks through the tubular webbing, expanding across the chest area and a special coating helps the airbag stay inflated for 6 sec to protect for multiple crash modes. A new weaving technique was used to form the tubular webbing and a frangible edge that allows the belt to split and the airbag to deploy.

Category Finalist: Film For Vacuum-Folded Airbag Application
OEM and Model: Ferrari 2010 model year 458 Italia Supercar

Tier Supplier/Processor: Takata Corp.

Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Bemis Assoc. Inc. and Schreiner Group/Takata Corp.

Material: Co-Extruded Laminated Film

Process: Film Extrusion/Vacuum Sealing

Description: To meet styling trends for smaller airbag cushion package space without loss of functionality, a packaging process common in the food and pharmaceutical industries-vacuum-sealed films-has been applied to automotive safety restraints for the first time. New tool design and manufacturing equipment were required to produce the co-extruded, laminated vacuum-sealed pouches in order to meet airbag performance requirements and environmental durability for the life of the vehicle. Additionally airbag module mass was reduced by 15-30 percent and package size was greatly reduced.

Category Finalist: Advanced Passenger Airbag Chute

OEM and Model: Ford 2011 model year Lincoln MKX CUV

Tier Supplier/Processor: Automotive Components Holdings

Material Supplier: Mitsubishi Chemical USA

Material: TPO

Process: Injection Molding

Description: A unique cavity/core tool design at the hinges allowed a special “hook and window” feature to be created on this advanced passenger-airbag chute that intersects the chute’s inner wall rather than the top flange. The result is reduced squeak and rattle, vertical support, and better PAB-to-chute alignment, as well as a savings of
612 g and $4.36  per vehicle


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