10/27/2010

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First TPO bumper fascia named SPE Hall of Fame winner

Automotive plastic parts considered for the Hall of Fame award must have been in continuous service in some form for at least 15 years and preferably have been widely adapted within the automotive or ground-transportation industries."This application has been so successful," said Nippani Rao, President, Rao Associates and co-chair of the 2010 SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Hall of Fame search committee, "that even after 25 years, 90 % of all the cars I see when I'm driving have TPO fascias." The application not only proliferated throughout North American vehicle production, but also was heavily adopted in Europe and Asia. In fact, today an estimated 65-70-million vehicles each year are equipped with TPO fascias. Assuming a typical set of these parts on front and rear bumpers weigh a total of 14 lbs/6.4 kg, this single application still consumes close to 1 billion lbs/453,592 t of TPO polymers annually worldwide.Hifax ETA3041 TPO reactor resin supplied by LyondellBasell predecessor company, Himont was used in the first injection-moulded TPO fascias to replace reaction injection moulded (RIM)polyurethane. The switch from urethane to olefin materials brought a number of significant benefits, including faster processing cycles, lower processing costs, 10 - 15 % lower part weight, better weatherability, and improved low-temperature impact strength/ductility.Environmental benefits of the application were weight reduction and the ability to reprocess (recycle) in-plant scrap as well as post-consumer parts at end of vehicle life. Additionally, the injection-moulding process and its ability to use a lot of tooling action led to greater design flexibility, facilitating the use of deep draws and undercuts in part designs, allowing more sculpted vehicle styling lines, and providing the opportunity to consolidate parts and mould-in attachment and structural features.Initially, the TPO fascias were painted to match body panels, but later featured contrasting moulded-in-colour - typically black or gray. Buckeye Plastics-Worthington was the original systems supplier/moulder for this application.Betsy Jackson, director-Bumper, Fascias, & Lighting at GM will accept the award on behalf of the original GM team that worked on the programme on 9 November 2010 at SPE's annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala at Burton Manor in Livonia, MI, USA.

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