Good engineering spawns corporate profits.
Ford Motor Co. last week announced a third quarter profit of
$1 billion, and said it will be solidly profitable in 2010. The next day, the
Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Div. announced that Ford is the 2009
winner of the Vehicle Engineering Team Award for the new Taurus sedan.
Pete Reyes, chief program engineer-Taurus at Ford will
accept the award during SPE's 39th-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala Nov. 12 in Livonia, MI.
Previous winners of this award include Porsche AG in 2004
for the â04MY Porsche Carrera GT supercar and Ford Motor Co. in 2008 for the
â09MY Ford Flex cross-over utility vehicle.
Four specific innovations using polymers are finalists in
the SPE's "Most Innovative Uses of Plastics Competition." Winners will be
announced at the same banquet Nov. 12. Two of them involve interesting new
technologies for weather stripping for the 2010 Ford Taurus.
"The outer belt weatherstrips are an industry first to
provide a low-profile tri-extrusion with stainless, TPV and a vinyl high gloss
ionomer," says Chet Walawender, a design engineer in the product development
group at Ford. "The manufacturing process envelope was pushed to the maximum to
satisfy the Taurus design theme."
Most side belts have a homogenous material appearance and
are mechanically attached using a visible fastener along the b-pillars. The
2008 Taurus (fifth-generation design) had a stainless-steel molding for
Designers wanted a fresh look for the sixth-generation
Taurus, whose design was led by Chief Designer Earl Lucas. The end result is
more aerodynamic and higher-end than the previous Taurus.
In the new outer belt weatherstrip, the TPV provides
sealing, the stainless steel provides a chrome appearance, and the high gloss
vinyl tape carries the Taurus appearance theme.
In a related appearance-oriented innovation, the Ford
engineering team pulled off another industry first - use of weatherstrip corner
mold overlays in the door glass run to provide gloss and appearance differences
to the gloss seals. In the Ford innovation Zytel nylon is used for low
resistance to the glass closing with no bounceback. The previous Taurus used a
low-friction silicon spray.
Ford Taurus bezels, which hide the inner workings of the
headlamp, are made with polycarbonate infused with metallic flakes. "We wanted
to achieve a distinctive metallic appearance," says Russ Bloomfield, an
applications development engineer at Sabic Innovative Plastics. Costs were
reduced 5-10 percent through elimination of painting.
The fourth SPE finalist for the Ford Taurus is an industry
first use of plastic for below-belt door brackets. "Plastic channels will not
ding door outer panels during installation and provide quiet window system
operation," says Wallawender.
A typical automotive window below belt bracket attaches to
the door in white (before painting) to support window glass during up and down
travel. The u-channel construction is made of cold-rolled steel and weighs up
to 3 lb per vehicle.
The new injection molded bracket is made of a glass-filled
polyolefin and reduces weight by 50 percent compared to conventional designs.
"Gating of the mold and management of cooling rates through mold flows were
done to optimize the processing to prevent value-add secondary operations,"
Ford designed the part so the molding has three functions: provides the glass channel, mounts features
for in/out direction, and toggles lock to the inner panel "z" direction.
The system is supplied by Henneges Automotive, a Tier Two
specializing in the automotive sealing market.