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10-19-2015

SPE Names Automotive Hall of Fame Winner

The first use of glass-mat thermoplastic (GMT) composite on the front bumper of the 1984 model year Chevrolet Corvette sports car from then General Motors Corp. (GM) has been named the 2015 Hall of Fame winner by the Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) for the group's 45th-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition.

GMT composite applications featured on the 1984 MY Corvette, including front bumper beam, seat shells, spare tire carrier, rear package shelf, and interior engine cover (figure: SPE)

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 preferably have been broadly adopted within the automotive or ground-transportation industries. GMT bumpers meet this criteria having been in continuous use on a variety of passenger vehicles for more than three decades and having proliferated beyond GM to vehicles built by automakers in North America, Europe, and Asia. In fact, many of the different GMT bumper design variants over the years have been category or Grand Award winners of the Automotive Innovation Awards Competition.

"The front bumper on the 1984 Corvette not only was the first in a long line of weight- and cost-saving front and rear bumper beams in GMT composites" explains Nippani Rao, president, RAO Associates, and co-chair of the SPE Automotive Division Hall of Fame committee, "but it also led to increased use of GMT as well as other thermoplastic composites in a broad range of interior and exterior automotive applications worldwide."

"GM's first use of a GMT bumper on the 1984 Corvette involved a number of firsts," adds David Reed, General Motors Corp.-retired and also SPE Hall of Fame committee co-chair. "This two-piece, compression-molded, induction-welded, box-section design used Azdel PM 400 40% continuous-strand, randomly oriented glass fiber in a polypropylene matrix from PPG Industries. The application, which was molded by LOF Plastics Inc., also represents the first use of EMA weld welding."

On Wednesday, November 11, 2015, Ted Adamczyk, design release engineer at General Motors will accept the award on behalf of the original team that worked on the program at the 45th-annual SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Gala at Burton Manor in Livonia, Mich., where winning part nominations and the teams that developed them will be honored during an evening celebrating automotive plastics innovation.

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