Engineers at Delphi Automotive last week were
awarded the grand prize in the 39th Society of Plastics Engineers'
Automotive Innovation Awards Competition for their development of an injection-molded plastic radio housing.
The new radio case, which replaces a formed sheet metal
case, is being used first on the mid-year model of the GM Tahoe.The new case
achieves EMI and RFI shielding by
completely enclosing electronics with a mesh Faraday cage that is insert
molded using patented magnetic tooling.
"The biggest advantage is the reduction in weight. There is
a 1.2 pound, or 22 percent, weight
savings," says Vineet Gupta, who led the engineering team that developed the
The other awards are listed below, by category:
Body Exterior: Exterior spoiler with integrated stop light assembly
is used on the Cadillac® CTS® Sport
Highly dimensionally stable, this thermoplastic Class A
horizontal body panel meets stringent gap requirements by managing a low
coefficient of thermal expansion (3.9) while also maintaining heat, impact, and
surface quality for a highly aesthetic application. The center-high-mounted stop light is also integrated
in this part.
Body Interior. Plastic post-isolation for automotive HVAC
blower motors is used on the Chevrolet® Camaro® Sports Car.
This application uses an integrally molded plastic mount
instead of multiple rubber isolators to soften and quiet HVAC fan-motor
vibrations, resulting in significant reductions in cost and development time
plus a quieter vehicle interior for consumers.
A resonant frequency "tuning" feature allowed for
noise/vibration/harshness (NVH) optimization even late in the
vehicle-development cycle with minimum impact on mold tooling. Now bare motors can be purchased, allowing
more motors to be shipped per container, and a quick snap-fit joins the plastic
mount to motor, facilitating assembly.
Hardware. The winner for this
category is electric power-steering flexible coupling used on the Fiat® 500
This flexible plastic coupling for the vehicle's electric
power steering replaced a similar stainless-steel coupling with broached
splines and grease. The part 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 fully
compliant constant-velocity joint eliminates torsional lash, the need for
grease, and all sliding interfaces at a cost savings, while reducing audible
cabin noise and improving steering "feel."
The system replaces traditional hydraulic systems, reducing weight 17
percent, cost 50 percent, and increasing fuel economy by 4 percent. System performance and customer satisfaction
were also improved.
Environmental. Radiator end tank from renewably sourced
material, which was developed for the
Toyota® Camry® Sedan.
This is described as the first use of bioplastic in a
chemically aggressive and mechanically demanding application - in radiator end
tanks. Roughly 40 percent of this new
nylon 6/10 material is sourced from caster bean oil, reducing reliance on
petroleum-based inputs and helping lower the vehicle's carbon footprint.
Materials. Door panels made from natural-fiber
composite are used on theBMW® 7 Series Luxury Sedan.
This lower door-panel inner was compression molded from a
new, high-performance, lightweight, cost-effective, and green composite. The resin matrix is a unique acrylic polymer
that is thermoplastic in its "B-stage," allowing for production of
prepreg/semi-finished rollstock or blanks, yet cross-linking at temperatures
above 120C to produce a very durable thermoset.
The resin's high "wet-out" of natural fibers and ability to
form chemical as well as mechanical bonds to the reinforcement allows for
production of composites with very-high fiber loadings - 70 percent in this
application - yielding lightweight parts with high stiffness in thin walls. The
resulting panel saves weight and cost, significantly reduces VOC emissions, and
its rapidly renewable natural fiber mat reduces the vehicle's carbon footprint
without sacrificing performance.
Customization. Illuminated door-sill
inserts using a single-LED light engine was engineered for the Ford® Mustang®
Sports Car, Lincoln® MKZ and Ford® MKT Sedans.
The insert combines several different plastic technologies
to create optics that require only one LED light source. It is described as
easily be customizable (via laser etching) to produce high-impact illuminated
graphics. The system's unique construction allows the design to be adapted to
new vehicles in weeks, not months, significantly reducing development costs. In
addition, the application is the auto industry's first to provide multi-color
illumination from a single LED light engine.
Powertrain. An oil
pan optimized for stone impact with an impact-modified, 35 percent-glass nylon
6 was developed by BASF for Ford's 6.7L power-stroke turbo diesel engine.
Plastic oil pans have been a design goal for more than 20
years. This is the first plastic oil pan designed for full exposure to the road
environment and optimized to withstand road chemicals and stone impacts thanks
to a new material / ribbing configuration.
The new BASF resin is not affected by calcium chloride due
to a proprietary modification package. A special waffle-design ribbing pattern
can handle multiple impacts (unlike earlier plastic designs with sacrificial
ribs). Another unique aspect of this oil
pan is that it features the first plastic drain plug, which sports a cam-lock
design that makes it impossible to over-torque and break the plug's screw
threads. The oil pan is 2.1-lb lighter than the steel pan it replaced and
30percent less costly. It has a
noise/vibration/harshness value similar to that of cast aluminum and quiet
steel, yet will not rust or corrode and provides better protection against
stone impact than metal designs.
Process / Assembly /
Enabling Technologies. The winner is
the plastics radio case, which was awarded the grand prize.
Safety. A pedestrian-protection-compliant front
fender was engineered for the Ford® Kuga® Compact CUV.
This is the first SUV with thermoplastic fenders that meet
European pedestrian-protection requirements for head impact in a single part,
eliminating the need for secondary brackets under the fender as in steel
designs. The resin system used is a proprietary grade from Sabic Innovative
Plastics that includes polyphenylene ether, polystyrene, and nylon. Weight and
cost are reduced by 50 percent compared to steel, according to Ford.