Press release submitted on behalf of SPE’s Automotive Innovation Awards Program
The Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE®) today announced the winners for its 52nd annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala, the oldest and largest recognition event (established in 1970) in the automotive and plastics industries. The announcement was made on the evening of November 8, 2023, during the 52nd SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Gala held at Burton Manor in Livonia, Mich., USA. The Body Interior Category winner was also this year’s Grand Award winner. The Grand Award winner is selected from the winners of each of the 8 categories by a panel of Blue Ribbon Judges who are industry experts. This year’s winners are:
GRAND AWARD & CATEGORY WINNER: Body Interior
Mega Bin / Frunk
- OEM Make & Model: 2024 Ford Motor Co. Ford F-150 Lightning
- Tier Supplier/Processor: Cascade Engineering
- Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Celanese Corp. / Commercial Tool Group
- Material /Process: Celstran PP-GF40 AD3004 (PP-LFT 40% GF) / Injection Molding
- By converting from compression molded painted SMC to injection molded MIC LFT-PP to produce this large Class A composite frunk — currently the industry’s largest — mass was reduced 48%, productivity was increased owing to a 37% cycle time reduction, the cost and environmental burden of paint were eliminated, seal interfaces were improved, secondary routering of holes is no longer needed, and the frunk is fully recyclable at end of life. A 4,000 ton injection press and a tool equipped with a 16-drop hot runner system are used to mold parts.
CATEGORY WINNER: Aftermarket and Limited Edition/Specialty Vehicles
Hybrid Battery Interconnect Board
- OEM Make & Model: 2024 General Motors Co. Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray
- Tier Supplier/Processor: Sun Microstamping Technologies
- Material Supplier/Toolmaker: BASF Corp. / Sun Microstamping Technologies
- Material /Process: Ultramid B3UG4 PA 6 / Vertical Clamp Parting Line Injection Rotary Molded – Insert Overmolding
- This patented hybrid battery interconnect board features small and delicate metal current collectors, bus bars, and sensing lines in a very compact design to fit in limited packaging space. The 20% GF/PA6 grade was selected for its ability to offer high levels of functional integration in limited space plus be compatible with snapfits, heat staking, ultrasonic welding, and adhesive bonding. The material also is heat stabilized and flame retardant. Laminated core-block inserts are used in rotary injection tooling for venting and to control stampings during overmolding.
CATEGORY Winner: Body Exterior
- OEM Make & Model: 2023 Rivian LLC Rivian R1S
- Tier Supplier/Processor: Magna International
- Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Advanced Composites, Inc. / Tycos Tool & Die Co.
- Material /Process: LGF-PP & TPO / Injection Molding
- This is the world’s first all-thermoplastic split gate rear-closure system, which is delivered to the assembly line as a ready-to-install module. The complex, deep draw (>80 mm) design offers improved perceived quality at lower mass, NVH, and cost vs. metals, and is offered in a 2-tone execution. By commonizing grades between the liftgate and the benchgate and focusing on sustainability, parts were reduced from 9 to 3 and just 2 materials are used (injection molded LFT-PP and TPO). The CHMSL and taillamps were carried over from the pickup model.
CATEGORY WINNER: Electric & Autonomous Vehicle Systems
Battery Disconnect Unit
- OEM Make & Model: 2023 General Motors Co. GMC Hummer EV
- Tier Supplier/Processor: Lear Corporation
- Material Supplier/Toolmaker: BASF / Lear Corporation
- Material /Process: Ultramid 66 H2 G25 V0KB1 and Ultradur B4450G5 HR / Injection Molding
- Two BDUs have been integrated into a single system supporting two 400V systems, which enable fast and safe recharging of EVs and disconnects power in an over-current situation to protect passengers. The meter-long parts feature a complex design that offers improved thermal management and reduced component mass. Two UL94 V0 halogen-free materials—one with very-high CTI—replaced die-cast aluminum while maintaining superior physical properties and ease of processing. Complex simulation and process optimization were also key to success.
Battery Module Sideplates
- OEM Make & Model: 2024 General Motors Co. Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray
- Tier Supplier/Processor: Novares Group
- Material Supplier/Toolmaker: RTP Co. / Liberty Molds, Inc.
- Material /Process: RTP-299 K X 138337 E BLACK / Injection Molding
- By replacing metals with RTP 299 K X 138337 E BLACK PARA material to injection mold the side plates for this battery module, extremely flat parts with high dimensional accuracy, stiffness, and strength were achieved in a complex geometry. The high-modulus, creep-resistant FR polymer eliminated the need for compression limiters and electrical isolation films, yet withstands extreme pressures from cell expansion and met all mechanical requirements. Additionally, 4 components were reduced to 1 and many functional features were incorporated in the patented side plates that would not have been possible in metals. Mass was reduced 37% and cost 55%.
CATEGORY: Process/Assembly/Enabling Technologies
- OEM Make & Model: 2024 Toyota Motor Corp. Toyota Grand Highlander
- Tier Supplier/Processor: Hi-Lex Corp.
- Material Supplier/Toolmaker: NA / Hi-Lex Corp.
- Material /Process: NA / Injection Molding
- This patented injection molded module for seats incorporates both temporary and permanent holding features to control cables and dramatically reduce both components and labor at the seat manufacturer. Cables are delivered to the Tier 1 pre-routed on the module plate, eliminating the brackets, cable ties, and clips typically used to control seat cables, and greatly reducing labor for an assembly operator. The module also reduces rework and scrap due to cable misalignments. Additionally, lever pull effort for consumers is reduced since direct cable routing enables use of shorter cables.
CATEGORY WINNER: Safety
Intumescent Terminal Covers
- OEM Make & Model: 2023 General Motors Co. Cadillac Lyriq & GMC Hummer
- Tier Supplier/Processor: Auto-Kabel Group/ Molded Precision Components
- Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Pyrophobic Systems Ltd. / NA
- Material /Process: Lithium Prevent 200 PVC / Injection Molding
- A specially formulated flexible and intumescent PVC is designed to prevent arcing during thermal runaway events in high-voltage EV batteries. The high-temperature, high-voltage insulator is used to injection mold various terminal caps and barriers. Safety is increased during thermal runaway since the material maintains high dielectric strength, reducing arcing risk and ignition of gases and forms a structured char barrier, helping reduce spread of fire from one module to another.
CATEGORY WINNER: Sustainability
OEM Make & Model: 2024 Ford Motor Co. Ford Mustang Mach E
- Tier Supplier/Processor: IAC Group
- Material Supplier/Toolmaker: Advanced Composites, Inc. / HS Inc.
- Material /Process: ADX8327 20% PCR TPO / Injection Molding
- This is the first time a 20% PCR recycled material has been used in a color-matched, MIC, Class A structural funk application. Versus virgin TPO, the more sustainable grade lowered density slightly and offered better impact at -15°C. Concurrent redesign reduced component count from 6 to 1, including eliminating 2 metal brackets, saving 3 kg of mass, increasing cargo volume and functionality, improving water management, reducing cost and labor and saving an estimated 1,125 tons of CO2 annually. PCR content is sourced from yogurt cups and packaging materials.
CATEGORY WINNER: VEHICLE ENGINEERING TEAM AWARD (VETA)
2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray
The 2024 Chevrolet E-Ray and a team from General Motors Co. and its suppliers that developed the electrified, all-wheel drive (eAWD) sports car were named the winners of this year’s Vehicle Engineering Team Award (VETA). The VETA award was created by SPE in 2004 to recognize the technical achievements of entire teams – comprised of automotive designers and engineers, tier integrators, materials suppliers, toolmakers, and others – whose work in research, design, engineering, and manufacturing has led to significant integration of polymeric materials on notable vehicles. The vehicle features numerous plastic and composite innovations, many of which were nominated in other categories of SPE’s Automotive Innovation Awards Competition, including the following:
- Aftermarket & Limited Edition / Specialty Vehicles Nomination: Carbon Fiber Wheel
- Aftermarket & Limited Edition / Specialty Vehicles Finalist: Hybrid Battery Interconnect Board (ICB)
- Aftermarket & Limited Edition / Specialty Vehicles Finalist: Plastic Oil Cooling Lines
- Materials Winner: Battery Module Side Plates
- Process/Assembly/Enabling Technologies Finalist: Battery Module Structure
In addition, the Corvette E-Ray also features a number of carryover composites parts from the 2020 MY Corvette Stingray VETA winner. These include:
- Body Exterior: Rear Bulkhead Window Frame, Rear Fascia Assembly; and Rear Surround Frame;
- Chassis & Hardware: Precision Wheel-Balance System and Underbody Tunnel Structural Closeout;
- Materials: SMC/LMC Front & Rear Trunk Components;
- Powertrain: Rear Induction Duct;
- Process, Assembly & Enabling Technologies: Pultruded Rear Bumper and Rear Service Doors.
CATEGORY WINNER: HALL OF FAME AWARD – First Acrylic Rear Lens
The industry’s first Acrylic Rear Lens, used on the 1948 General Motors Co. Cadillac Series 60, 61 and 62 models, was named the 2023 Hall of Fame Award Winner. The Acrylic (also known as PMMA) Rear Lens, made possible with the invention of the polymer called polymethylmethacrylate by Dr. Otto Röhm in 1932, was a gamechanger replacing ground glass and enabling a renaissance of new lighting designs for all OEMs.
To be considered for a Hall of Fame Award, an automotive plastic or composite component must have been in continuous service in some form for at least 15 years and broadly adopted in the automotive industry. This application certainly qualifies as PMMA lenses are an industry standard known for glass-like optical properties while being about half the weight of glass. PMMA offers numerous design and quality benefits making it the premier material for lighting applications and more on all automotive vehicles and on numerous other products in industry.
The companies involved in developing the first Acrylic Rear Lens include: OEM – General Motors Co.; Molder Processor – Fisher Body Division; Material Supplier – Röhm & Haas OHG (Germany), now known as Röhm GmbH. General Motors accepted the SPE Automotive Hall of Fame Award on behalf of the original team that worked to develop this application.
CATEGORY WINNER: LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – KEVIN N. PAGEAU
Kevin N. Pageau, owner and president of International Marketing Alliance and a major contributor to the SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Program for many years, was named the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner.
For over 40 years, Pageau has led key advancements in the automotive plastics industry including being an early pioneer in the application of CAE Technologies – Pageau ran GE Plastics first 3D finite element moldflow analysis, and provided technical analysis of numerous leading edge applications at GE. He also developed one of the first Warp Analysis tools, where the melt flow angle for each element was calculated and used to predict fiber orientation in glass filled materials – leading to additional roles at GE as Project Engineer, Business Development Specialist and Business Development Manager. As Director of Engineering at Plastic Engineering & Technical Services (PETS), he developed proprietary methods, computer programs and algorithms to optimize the analysis of hot and cold runner systems for complex automotive molds, as well as implementing some of the first commercial “mold cooling” analysis projects.
Pageau has also led a team of tooling engineers, project engineers, and quality engineers in the development of decorative plastics molds and processes as Director of Advanced Engineering at Dott Industries. As a Manufacturer’s Representative at Mayne-McKenney, he built significant business for Principals in the areas of satellite radio antennas, engineered foam and injection molding.
Pageau joined International Marketing Alliance (IMA) in 2003 and helped build it into a leading sales and marketing firm for automotive components. IMA represents seven domestic and international companies, with product areas including injection molding, decorative plastics of all types, engineered foam, LED lighting systems, and advanced seat comfort systems, generating revenues of approximately $100 million dollars annually.