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Automotive experts choose the year’s best plastic auto parts

General Motors' use of a nanocomposite material captured the hearts of judges and the Grand Award at the Society of Plastics Engineers' Automotive Division awards ceremony, held late last year. The na...


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February 1, 2002 by Canadian Plastics



General Motors’ use of a nanocomposite material captured the hearts of judges and the Grand Award at the Society of Plastics Engineers’ Automotive Division awards ceremony, held late last year. The nanocomposite olefin, developed jointly by General Motors, Basell Polyolefins and Southern Clay Products, is used to mold the step-assist for the 2002 Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari. It also won in the Materials category. (See Canadian Plastics, November 2001 issue, Technology Trends for details on this part).

General Motors also received the Body Exterior award for the 2001 Chevrolet Silverado composite pick-up truck box. Incorporated in the truck box is a part believed to be the largest one-piece item manufactured by structural reaction injection molding (SRIM). The multi-material truck box includes materials from Dow Automotive, Bayer, Ashland Specialty Chemical Company, SAI and Owens Corning.

A significant process innovation won the Chassis/Hardware/Assembly award for Audi. The structural front-end module (FEM) carrier joins steel to steel with a plastic component that fastens like a rivet during the injection molding process. SPE reports this is the first time plastic has been used to join steel to steel in a structural member and in the injection molding process. The FEM carrier comes complete from the mold, including five threaded inserts with no secondary operations. The plastic used is Bayer’s Durethan BKV 30 nylon.

Ford Motor Co. was presented the Powertrain award for nylon Charge-Air-Cooler end tanks which replace die-cast aluminum end tanks on the F-250 and F-550 trucks equipped with diesel engines. The high-temperature nylon tanks reduced component weight by nearly 50%, significantly reduced assembly costs and boosted performance of the CAC system. Materials used included DuPont’s Zytel HTN 52G45 and Zytel 70G30, EMS Grivory’s Grivory HT2V-45H and Solvay’s Amodel AS-4145HS.

A Hall of Fame award for an application that has stood the test of time went to General Motors for the implementation of glass-filled thermoplastics for soft foam and skin instrument panels. One material in particular has survived over the years in this application: Nova Chemicals’ Dylark styrenic maleic anhydride. Dylark was first used on the 1973 Oldsmobile Cutlass instrument panel. Since then, over 200 million vehicle IPs worldwide have been manufactured with Dylark resin.