Plastics in Automotive Applications

Ford Motor Company's Lincoln cars may be better known as the luxury cars favoured by many U. S. presidents, but the brand's upscale reputation hasn't stopped the company from lightening up.
For the new Lincoln MKT luxury concept vehicle, Ford teamed up with SABIC Innovative Plastics to achieve weight savings of 104 lbs. without compromising the car's safety and style.

"Until now, many people have considered a green luxury car to be an oxymoron," said SABIC automotive executive director Amanda Roble. "By replacing traditional metal and glass with quality materials that are durable and sustainable, which help reduce fuel consumption and emissions, Lincoln has created a luxury vehicle that is gentle on the environment."

SABIC's smart iQ resins, made of up-cycled PET bottles, replaced metal in a number of part applications. Xenoy iQ was targeted for front and rear bumper energy absorbers, the center console, and liftgate inner structure. Additionally, Valox iQ resin was used for the engine cover, connectors, power distribution boards, and the composite hood. SABIC noted that more than 2,000 PET bottles went into the MKT.

Meanwhile, the use of Lexan GLX polycarbonate resins with Exatec coating bonded with CarboTech carbon composite structure as a glazing component instead of glass reduced weight by 28.4 lbs. Flexible Noryl resin, a flame-retardant, non-halogenated material, helped reduce the weight by 2.5 lbs. by enabling ultra-thin wire coating.

New Mercedes headrest shows some skin
The SkinForm process -- showcased at K 2004 by its developers KraussMaffei Technologies GmbH, Ruhl Puromer and Schenk Plastic Solutions -- combines injection molding techniques to create high-quality leather-like plastic surfaces with a polyurethane outer skin and sturdy thermoplastic support.

The process is now being used for the first time for a serially produced part in automotive construction. The headrests on the C-, S-, M-, R-and GL-class Mercedes-Benz models are manufactured using the SkinForm process, with a thermoplastic support of the rear headrest cover made of BASF's Terblend N NM-19 ABS/PA blend.

According to BASF, the plastic is easy to process and adhered well to the polyurethane, which has a leather-like grain and feel on the outside.

Cooper-Standard gets top marks for innovations
Novi, Mich.-based Cooper-Standard Automotive Inc. was honoured with three finalist awards in the Most Innovative Use of Plastics category at the annual Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Automotive Division awards.

The three innovations were designed to integrate multiple functions, simplify assembly, and take advantage of the company's patented overmolding and joining process. Each application used DuPont'd Zytel HTN PPA.
The first assembly, an electric water valve assembly for the Nissan Titan, Armada and Quest, was named a finalist in the Powertrain category. Cooper-Standard reduced four component parts into one assembly for cost savings and 40 per cent weight savings.

Also in the Powertrain category, the transmissional thermal valve assembly (pictured) for the Nissan Sentra takes half the weight out of multi-piece metal components, integrates functions, and eliminates cumbersome metal crimp and secondary welding processes. The use of over-molded brackets accomplishes two functions -- joint sealing and vehicle mounting interface -- eliminating potential leak paths.

The company's electric brushless pump for rear HVAC systems on the Nissan Quest also was a finalist in the Chassis category. The design incorporates 11 discrete components into one integrated assembly, cutting weight by a third and streamlining packaging significantly. The assembly increases the motor's life expectancy by 500 per cent, and greatly enhances vehicle cabin comfort.