Ford Engineers Win Coveted SPE Award

DN Staff

November 9, 2009

3 Min Read
Ford Engineers Win Coveted SPE Award

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, theSociety of Plastics Engineers Automotive Div. announced that Ford is the 2009winner of the Vehicle Engineering Team Award for the new Taurus sedan.

Pete Reyes, chief program engineer-Taurus at Ford willaccept 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 2004for the ‘04MY Porsche Carrera GT supercar and Ford Motor Co. in 2008 for the‘09MY Ford Flex cross-over utility vehicle.

Tri-extrusion Innovation

Four specific innovations using polymers are finalists inthe SPE's "Most Innovative Uses of Plastics Competition." Winners will beannounced at the same banquet Nov. 12. Two of them involve interesting newtechnologies for weather stripping for the 2010 Ford Taurus.

"The outer belt weatherstrips are an industry first toprovide a low-profile tri-extrusion with stainless, TPV and a vinyl high glossionomer," says Chet Walawender, a design engineer in the product developmentgroup at Ford. "The manufacturing process envelope was pushed to the maximum tosatisfy the Taurus design theme."

Most side belts have a homogenous material appearance andare mechanically attached using a visible fastener along the b-pillars. The2008 Taurus (fifth-generation design) had a stainless-steel molding forcapping.

Designers wanted a fresh look for the sixth-generationTaurus, whose design was led by Chief Designer Earl Lucas. The end result ismore aerodynamic and higher-end than the previous Taurus.

In the new outer belt weatherstrip, the TPV providessealing, the stainless steel provides a chrome appearance, and the high glossvinyl tape carries the Taurus appearance theme.

In a related appearance-oriented innovation, the Fordengineering team pulled off another industry first - use of weatherstrip cornermold overlays in the door glass run to provide gloss and appearance differencesto the gloss seals. In the Ford innovation Zytel nylon is used for lowresistance to the glass closing with no bounceback. The previous Taurus used alow-friction silicon spray.

Painting Eliminated

Ford Taurus bezels, which hide the inner workings of theheadlamp, are made with polycarbonate infused with metallic flakes. "We wantedto achieve a distinctive metallic appearance," says Russ Bloomfield, anapplications development engineer at Sabic Innovative Plastics. Costs werereduced 5-10 percent through elimination of painting.

The fourth SPE finalist for the Ford Taurus is an industryfirst use of plastic for below-belt door brackets. "Plastic channels will notding door outer panels during installation and provide quiet window systemoperation," says Wallawender.

A typical automotive window below belt bracket attaches tothe door in white (before painting) to support window glass during up and downtravel. The u-channel construction is made of cold-rolled steel and weighs upto 3 lb per vehicle.

The new injection molded bracket is made of a glass-filledpolyolefin and reduces weight by 50 percent compared to conventional designs."Gating of the mold and management of cooling rates through mold flows weredone to optimize the processing to prevent value-add secondary operations,"says Wallawender.

Ford designed the part so the molding has three functions:  provides the glass channel, mounts featuresfor in/out direction, and toggles lock to the inner panel "z" direction.

The system is supplied by Henneges Automotive, a Tier Twospecializing in the automotive sealing market.

Ford design engineers want back to the drawing board for the smallest details to boost the styling and performance of the 2010 Taurus. Photo: SPE

Ford Engineers Win Coveted SPE Award A

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