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Plastics crucial for automakers to meet future challenges: APMA panel (May 14, 2007)

Increased collaboration between automakers and the plastics industry is vital if the North American automotive indu...


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May 14, 2007 by Canadian Plastics

Increased collaboration between automakers and the plastics industry is vital if the North American automotive industry is to meet growing technical, financial and environmental challenges, according to the representatives from some of the Big Three automakers and automation suppliers convening at the 2007 Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association (APMA) conference and exhibition, which ran May 9 and 10 in Hamilton, Ont.

Collaboration [with the plastics industry] is not an option, its a necessity for automakers, Dr. John Mann, director of engineering and regulatory affairs at DaimlerChrysler Canada Inc., told the audience at the first ever Future Trends panel at an APMA conference. In addition to working closely with the plastics industry, collaboration between automakers and governments and between researchers will also be crucial.

Dr. Mann cited growing demands from both consumers and North American regulatory agencies for increased fuel efficiency as the area in which plastics will continue to make the greatest impact. The use of plastics to reduce weight in cars is rapidly increasing and will continue to do so, he said.

Dr. Mann also forecast growing opportunities for the use of bioplastics in new car parts.
Other members of the Future Trends panel, which took place on May 10, were Rich Sieradzki, vice president of service and sales for North America at Husky Injection Molding Systems; and Steve Polakowski, executive director of advanced interiors and electrical/electronic systems at Decoma International.

Huskys Sieradzki echoed Dr. Manns prediction of ever closer ties between the automobile and plastics industries, and identified the process of in-line compounding (ILC), which consists of lightweighting through fibre reinforced composites, as a particularly promising trend in the quest for lighter, more cost-efficient car parts.

In addition to increasing weight savings through plastics, Dr. Mann identified the need for reduced smog and CO2 emissions as particular factors that will shape the North American auto industry in the years to come. Reducing emissions to combat climate change will redefine the paradigm of how we do business in the years to come, he said.