A thermoplastic liftgate won first place in the body exteriors category, a carbon fibre subframe took first prize in the chassis category, and a thin-wall torsional welding process nabbed the top spot in the enabling technology category.
Automotive parts supplier Magna International Inc. collected three first-place awards at the 2018 Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Automotive Awards gala held on July 6 in Dusseldorf, Germany. The company took first prize in the body exteriors category for its thermoplastic liftgate for the 2019 Jeep Cherokee. Contributing to the lightweighting trend in the automotive industry, these liftgate modules achieve up to 25 per cent mass savings over steel versions and are delivered as complete assemblies to the customer. The use of composite materials allowed for greater design flexibility with deeper draws and tighter radii, said the company. Additional benefits of its full-system assembly and delivery approach include reduced complexity of the total liftgate module, lower tooling investment, and increased throughput at the assembly plant.
In the chassis category, the jury awarded the top spot to Magna’s carbon fibre subframe. Developed as part of an ongoing joint R&D project with Ford Motor Co., the prototype subframe achieves an 82 percent part reduction by replacing 45 steel parts with two moulded parts and six steel parts, a parts consolidation solution yielding a 34 percent mass savings compared to a subframe made of stamped steel. Vehicle-level testing is currently underway.
Magna was also placed first in the enabling technology category – a new category this year - for its thin-wall torsional welding process in which plastic brackets are joined to thermoplastic fascia with a ‘high-speed twisting motion that creates enough friction-based heat to meld them together,” the company explained in a statement. Magna is the first to use torsional welding for automotive fascia. The process is currently used for the front fascia of the 2017 Skoda Octavia in Europe, and said the company, ‘there are plans to use it soon in the North American market’.