Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Plastic Fenders


Plastic fenders from ’87 Buick claim Hall of Fame prize

By PlasticsToday Staff
Published: November 3rd, 2009
The front fenders on the 1987 model-year Buick LeSabre T-Type1 sports coupe, which represent the first use of an engineering thermoplastic on a vertical body panel, will be recognized with the Hall of Fame award at the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Automotive Division’s 39th-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition.
Produced by General Motors from then GE Plastics’ (now SABIC Innovative Plastics) Noryl GTX 910 resin, the part’s use of an MPPE/PA copolymer eventually was adopted by 45 platforms and 20 million vehicles globally.
After the initial success, GM utilized the same material for the fenders on its 1987 model year Buick Reatta sports coupe, among other vehicles. From 1989-2005, GM’s Saturn passenger vehicles utilized thermoplastics for exterior vertical body panels. Such panels have since been carried beyond automotive to tractors and lawnmowers for home and agricultural use.
A team at GE worked for more than five years to develop a polymer that would fulfill GM’s requirements for a material that was high quality, lightweight, damage and corrosion resistant, and compatible with then current body-build practices and paint systems. GM’s own engineering group reviewed, tested, and rejected 160 different materials from 17 resin suppliers before settling on the MPPE/PA grade. Offering thermal stability that could endure online priming and painting, the material allowed the panels to be assembled to the body-in-white (BIW). In addition, the polymer alloy offered low-temperature impact strength, good thermal stability, broad chemical resistance, low mold shrinkage, low moisture absorption (vs. nylon alone), and good dimensional stability.

Making the switch from steel to thermoplastic enabled GM to reduce part weight 40% (4 lb (1.8 kg) compared to 7.3 lb (3.3 kg) in steel). GM’s Buick Factory 8 in Flint, MI molded the first fenders for the Buick LeSabre T-Type sports coupe utilizing molds from Delta Tooling (Auburn Hills, MI). Dave Malik, director-Front & Rear Closures, and Henry Brockman, lead engineer, both from GM, will accept the award on Nov. 12 at SPE’s annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala at Burton Manor in Livonia, MI.


2 comments:

Mr O said...

I remember working in Plant 08, formerly part of Plant 12, in the early 1980’s on a friendly fender program. It was Dow from Midland that came in to use one of Dept 40’s 2000-ton Farrel injection molding machines. I want to say it was P-19, it was in the south west corner of the deptartment near Dept 41, P.I.M. The machine had suffered a series of fires and required rewiring. The plant electrical engineer, Terry Horvath, put in LION temperature control modules in conjunction with the Gould-Modicon 386 PLC. Dow wanted +/- 1F temperature control but doubted we could do it as there best lab machine was +/- 5F.

The data loggers we used showed +/- 0.5F during operation. They were happy, we demonstrated the ability to make consistent parts. They left with many good parts for analysis.

Plant 08 was on the cutting edge of plastics injection molding, with some of the most advanced technology in the corporation. Much was developed there by the engineers and skilled trades in-house. Truly sad that a team that was handled so many challenges successfully was not kept together. Not everything came out right but we found limits and solutions.

Mr O said...

I remember working in Plant 08, formerly part of Plant 12, in the early 1980’s on a friendly fender program. It was Dow from Midland that came in to use one of Dept 40’s 2000-ton Farrel injection molding machines. I want to say it was P-19, it was in the south west corner of the deptartment near Dept 41, P.I.M. The machine had suffered a series of fires and required rewiring. The plant electrical engineer, Terry Horvath, put in LION temperature control modules in conjunction with the Gould-Modicon 386 PLC. Dow wanted +/- 1F temperature control but doubted we could do it as there best lab machine was +/- 5F.

The data loggers we used showed +/- 0.5F during operation. They were happy, we demonstrated the ability to make consistent parts. They left with many good parts for analysis.

Plant 08 was on the cutting edge of plastics injection molding, with some of the most advanced technology in the corporation. Much was developed there by the engineers and skilled trades in-house. Truly sad that a team that handled so many challenges successfully was not kept together. Not everything came out right but we found limits and solutions.