Automotive Innovation Awards: Materials

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An instrument panel with injection-moulded skin won the Materials category. It is used on the 2013 Nissan Sentra compact car from Nissan Motor. System supplier, materials processor, and tooling/equipment supplier, Calsonic Kansei and materials supplier, Asahi Kasei Chemicals also were named on the award.

Winner of the category Materials

Instrument panels with injection-moulded skin

OEM/vehicle: Nissan Motor/2013 Sentra compact car

System supplier: Calsonic Kansei

Material processor: Calsonic Kansei

Material supplier: Asahi Kasei Chemicals

Material/process: Sunvieo A7171 thermoplastic vulcanizate (TPV)/injection moulding

Tooling/equipment supplier: Calsonic Kansei

Instrument panel with injection moulded TPV skin (photos: SPE)

This is the world’s first IP featuring an injection-moulded thinwall skin in ultrahigh-flow TPV (meltflow rate of 250g/10min). Thanks to good mechanical properties, the 1mm skin could accommodate deep draws and uneven undercuts, providing new levels of design and styling. The material is said to provide good visual appeal, distinctive elongation and softer touch preferred by consumers without compromising airbag deployment. Versus PVC slush moulding, the TPV provides good long-term appearance and gloss levels, moulds in just 60s, is 25% lighter, and 10% less costly. Tooling costs are lowered and scrap is reusable.

Finalist of the category Materials

Engine cylinder-block acoustic shield

OEM/vehicle: Hyundai Motor/2013 Elantra compact car

System supplier: NVH Korea

Material processor: NVH Korea

Material supplier: DuPont

Material/process: Nomex N301 aramid fibre/press forming

High-temperature resistant cylinder-block acoustic shield

This cylinder-block acoustic shield is non-flammable, lightweight, overcomes previous issues of durability at high-temperatures, and versus metals can be moulded into any desired shape, permitting closer positioning of shields around engine or exhaust system to maximise noise abatement. A new epoxy binder system was developed to enable press-formed parts to maintain 3D shapes. Further work was done to develop an impregnation process and to optimise the nonwoven aramid fabrics for this application. The part provides a 93% weight and 22% cost reduction versus previous technology and reduced assembly operations and interior noise levels. Thermal performance was also improved.

Finalist of the category Materials

High-brightness LED heat sink

OEM/vehicle: Aftermarket/2014

System supplier: Ayfar Otomotiv

Material processor: Mars Otomotiv

Material supplier: PolyOne

Material/process: Therma-Tech TT6600-5001EC thermally conductive PA 6/6/injection moulding

Tooling/equipment supplier: Mars Otomotiv

Thermoplastic LED heat sink

Injection-moulded conductive thermoplastic replaces die-cast aluminium on heat sinks for high-brightness (HB) LED transportation lamps. LED lighting uses less energy while increasing driver visibility and extending bulb life versus standard halogen bulbs. However, as heat increases, LED lighting performance and use life diminishes, so heat sinks play an important role in efficient operation. Special high-conductivity (20W/m-K) PA6/6 resin was developed for the aftermarket application, which reduced weight 39% and costs 20% versus aluminium. Interestingly, only minor modifications were required to reuse the aluminium die-cast tool for injection moulding of the thermoplastic solution.

Finalist of the category Materials

Rice hull-filled polypropylene electrical cowl bracket

OEM/vehicle: Ford Motor/2014 F-series pickup

System supplier: Yazaki North America

Material processor: A. Raymond Tinnerman

Material supplier: Rhe Tech

Material/process: RheVision RH10P325-00 PP/injection moulding

Tooling/equipment supplier: A. Raymond Tinnerman

Rice hull-filled PP electrical cowl bracket

In this injection moulded 25% PCR PP cowl bracket, talc filler was replaced with rice hulls. A by-product of domestic food processing, rice hulls are readily available, come from plants with a fast growing life cycle, and their composition is consistent season-to-season and field-to-field versus other natural reinforcements. No additional energy was required to produce the hulls (eliminating cost and energy associated with mining minerals) and their reuse avoids landfilling costs. The renewable/recyclable material was a direct drop in, speeding development time and eliminating tooling changes. It was weight and cost neutral, but poses longer term cost reduction opportunities.

Finalist of the category Materials

Mould-in-colour metallic to simulate painted parts

OEM/vehicle: Ford/2013 Edge CUV

System supplier: Johnson Controls

Material processor: Royal Plastics

Material supplier: Celanese

Material/process: Hostaform MetaLX LX90Z XAP2 POM/injection moulding

Mould-in-colour to simulate painted parts

This is the first time that injection moulded interior trim plastic parts have matched the satin look of light-silver paint while retaining its metallic sparkle. Although the part looks painted, it feels slick and smooth (owing to inherent lubricity of the POM polymer) instead of the dry, rough surface of painted parts. The grade uses a unique blend of metallic geometry and eliminates the cost, time, VOCs, and hazardous waste associated with painting while lowering costs 30%. Warranty issues also are expected to be reduced and this shows a trend of metallic-look MIC plastics being used on higher priced vehicles.

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