After having needed to skip a yr as a result of coronavirus pandemic, the 50th annual Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Division’s Blue Ribbon Automotive Innovation Awards didn’t disappoint. There have been a number of “firsts” among the many seven main classes, together with an added class that includes progressive options for COVID-19. Since 1970, this oldest and largest competitors of its type as highlighted the optimistic adjustments that polymers have delivered to automotive and floor transportation industries, resembling weight and value discount, components consolidation, elevated security, and enhanced aesthetics and design freedom. 

To commemorate “50 Years of Plastics Innovation,” as a substitute of choosing a single Corridor of Fame (HOF) Winner for 2021, the HOF committee chosen the highest 5 main improvements from the earlier 37 winners—from 1983 to 2019.  The factors for a HOF award is that the nomination be in use for a minimum of 15 years and be sport altering; very profitable worldwide; progressive in supplies, course of and utility; and nonetheless getting used. The highest 5 Corridor of Fame Awards are:

 •  HDPE gasoline tank, awarded to Volkswagon AG in 2000.

 •  Entrance & rear TPO bumper fascias, awarded to Normal Motors Co. in 2010.

 •  PVB (polyvinyl butyral) windshield interlayer, awarded to Ford Motor Co. in 1988.

 •   Nylon consumption manifold, awarded to Porsche AG in 2005.

 •  PC headlamp meeting, awarded to Ford Motor Co. in 2007.

In the meantime, the 2021 Automobile Engineering Group Award (VETA) award went to the crew at Ford Motor Co. and its suppliers that developed the 2021 mannequin yr Ford F-150 pickup. Created by SPE in 2004, the VETA award acknowledges the technical achievements of complete groups—automotive designers, engineers, tier integrators, supplies suppliers, toolmakers, and others—whose work in analysis, design, engineering, and/or manufacturing has led to vital integration of polymeric supplies on notable autos. For 44 years, Ford’s F-Collection has been the best-selling pickup within the U.S., and the 2021 mannequin options quite a few plastics and composites improvements, lots of which have been nominated in different classes of this yr’s competitors, together with Physique Exterior, Physique Inside, Chassis/{Hardware} and Supplies

Now right here’s a take a look at the eight 2021 winners.


Additive manufacturing was utilized in an industry-first built-in tether system to be used throughout your complete Ford Maverick sequence. 

Additive Manufacturing: Built-in Tether System

Additive manufacturing was used to provide an industry- first built-in tether system whereby clients can choose, obtain NFTL recordsdata, and 3D print their very own swappable equipment (e.g. cupholders, trash bins, cellphone wire organizers, umbrella holders, and many others.) that slot in storage slots of their automobile throughout your complete Ford Maverick sequence. Greater than 20 preliminary designs have been developed by Ford and its provide groups, resembling tier provider IAC Group, however many future designs could possibly be urged by clients. A wide range of printer sorts and urged supplies can be utilized. This gives clients with versatile, customizable storage and use options or the choice to maximise cabin area whereas avoiding vital tooling funding.

Body exterior winner of 2021 SPE Auto Innnovation Awards

Hardcoated and painted entrance PC grille with lit emblem for the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach E GT.

Physique Exterior: Grille with Built-in Lit Emblem

This hardcoated and painted entrance PC grille with lit emblem gives a 3D futuristic impact in a single half and is featured on the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach E GT. The tier provider/processor is Magna Exterior and its LexaMar Div. Covestro is the fabric provider and Inevo Group the instrument maker. Injection/compression molding kinds the large-format clear PC grille with variable wall thicknesses (3 to five mm) in a lower-tonnage press that helped decrease or remove circulation traces and stress marks. After molding, the optical-quality half undergoes a hardcoat silicone dip to supply weathering and abrasion resistance; the horse emblem is milled out; and primer and paint are selectively utilized to the B aspect of the half—the primary use of paint-over-hardcoat for an auto exterior-trim utility.

Body interior winner of 2021 SPE Automotive innovation awards

This single shoot & ship plastic half replaces a 16-piece metal meeting for the third-row seatback within the 2021 Toyota Sienna. 

Physique Inside: Third-Row Seatback

One other {industry} first is the alternative of a 16-piece metal meeting with a single, shoot & ship plastic half for this third-row seatback within the 2021 Sienna Toyota. Tier provider/processor are Toyota Boshoku Corp and Flex-N-Gate Corp. BASF is the fabric provider  and Concours Applied sciences is the toolmaker. Utilizing BASF’s new Ultramid B3ZG7 CR, a 35% short-glass, impact-modified nylon 6 injection grade, saved 30% in weight and 15% in value. Furthermore, this all-plastic, freestanding seatback gives glorious vitality absorption with out want for metallic help brackets and is claimed to symbolize a two-fold enchancment in crash efficiency and takes 63% much less effort for occupants to lift the seat to its upright place, eliminating the necessity for a seat motor.

2021 SPE Automotive chassis/hardware winner

The winner of the Chassis/{Hardware} class and the Grand Award winner is the thermoset multi-material rear leaf spring on the 2021 Ford F150.

Chassis/{Hardware}/Grand Award Winner: Multi-Materials Rear Leaf Spring

This new hybrid rear leaf spring featured on the 2021 Ford F150 combines a high-strength metal major pack plus an HP-RTM fiberglass-reinforced epoxy helper that reduces mass 30% whereas offering the identical stiffness and sturdiness as a standard metal leaf spring. Tier provider/processor are Rassini Suspensiones and SGL Carbon, and the supplies suppliers are Hexion and SGL Carbon. Extra advantages cited embrace elevated payload functionality, decrease half rely, decreased interleaf friction, smoother engagement, decrease noise, and decrease carbon footprint.

The 2021 SPE Auto innovation environmental award

These nylon 6 wire-harness clips on the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport are injection molded from 100% PCR ocean plastics.

Environmental: Wiring-Harness Clip

These injection molded recycled nylon 6 wire-harness clips featured on the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport are injection molded from 100% PCR ocean plastics. “Ghost gear” (discarded fishing nets) are collected by fishermen within the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, offering jobs  and more healthy marine life. Tier provider/processor are Lear and HellermannTyton North America. Materials provider/toolmaker are DSM and HellermannTyton North America

DSM’s Akulon RePurposed nylon 6 is soften compounded and is claimed to supply efficiency akin to virgin prime resin at 10% value financial savings, decrease vitality use, improved supply-chain stability, and LCA advantages. No tooling adjustments and minimal course of adjustments have been wanted for this drop-in substitution.

2021 SPE Auto innovation materials award

A 30% ultrasoft carbon fiber-reinforced PPA changed funding forged metal in six brackets for detachable hardtop and tender high roofs as featured on the 2021 Stellantis Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Gladiator. 

Supplies: Composite Roof Receivers

Six brackets for removeable hardtop and softtop roofs have been transformed from forged metal to 30% ultrashort carbon-fiber (USCF) strengthened PPA for the 2021 Stellantis Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Gladiator. These injection molded roof receivers present comparable half energy whereas lowering prices 38% and weight 79%.

The tier provider is Stellantis and the fabric provider/toolmaker are Mitsubishi Chemical Superior Supplies and Maple Mould Know-how. Mitsubishi’s KyronMAX S-4340 PPA with 30% USCF allowed the elimination of powder coating, offering improved scratch and mar resistance and a weatherable Class A end that allowed for mid-program alternative and backward service compatibility. The USCF composite is claimed to mould like neat polymers however outperforms long-fiber (LFT) supplies, is absolutely recyclable, and has a decrease carbon footprint than metallic/alloy components. Direct-drop valve gates and T-nut fasteners additionally have been key enablers.

2021 SPE Auto innovation award winner of process assembly/enabling technologies

Program timing was decreased by three months and $250,000 in prototype tooling was prevented by way of digital prototyping for this thick lightbar improvement featured on the 2021 GM Cadillac Escalade.

Course of Meeting/Enabling Applied sciences: Thick Lightbar Growth

This difficult 780 mm lengthy × 18 mm thick, transparent-red gentle blade for rear taillamps, featured on the 2021 GM Cadillac Escalade, gives a singular look and homogeneous lit look.

Tier provider/processor is Valeo Lighting Techniques and materials provider/toolmaker are Covestro and Windsor Mould Group.

Key to creating the patented utility work have been superior simulation instruments for design and useful optimization and warpage management; complicated runner, parting line, shutoff valves, and multi-shot injection course of management. Additionally secret’s a custom-formulated optical-grade of Covestro’s Makrolon LED PC that helped handle high quality, value, and molding capability and met all authorized rear-lighting necessities. Regardless of technical challenges, program timing was decreased by three months and $250,000 in prototype tooling was prevented by way of digital prototyping.

2021 SPE Auto innovation new category award for Covid-19 industry innovations

Ford Motor’s first all-plastic PARP transformed metallic elements to plastic to cut back mass and prices and enhance consumer consolation for this PPE utilized by medical staff treating COVID-19 sufferers. 
(All Photographs: SPE Automotive Div.)

Trade Options for COVID-19: Powered Air-Purifying Respirator

Ford Motor’s 2020 NIOSH-certified, Restricted Use APR (Powered Air-Purifying Respirator), the primary all-plastic product of its sort, transformed beforehand metallic elements to plastic to cut back weight and value and enhance consumer consolation. This private protecting gear is utilized by medical staff caring for COVID-19 sufferers.

Tier and processor contributors have been Ford  and Denso Corp. Materials suppliers have been Asahi Kasei America and Celanese, and toolmakers have been 3Dimensional Providers and Protolabs. Asahi Kasei’s TD40 40% talc-reinforced PP was used for the injection molded breathing-tube adapter, filter cowl, digital cowl and blower housing. The battery cowl was transitioned from PP-TD40 to Celanese’s Hostaform/Celcon POM (polyacetal).

The lighter, extra environment friendly design improved battery life, enabling staff to finish a 12-hr shift without having to recharge the battery. Manufacturing was elevated to 8500 items/week from the 650/week achieved by the earlier provider. All earnings from gross sales have been donated to COVID-19 reduction funds. 4 patents are pending on the unit.