Troy, (DETROIT) MICH.– The use of thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) skin on the instrument panel (IP) of the 2000 model year Pontiac Bonneville from General Motors (GM) has been named the 2017 Hall of Fame winner by the Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE®). This will be celebrated by honoring the product and the companies and people originally involved in developing this application during the SPE’s 47th annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition & Gala on November 8, 2017. TPO skin provides a leather-like feel with scratch and mar resistance, does not fade or degrade in ultra violet light, and is 100 percent recyclable. 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. This application certainly qualifies, as TPO skin technology was a major new plastics development that has advanced and expanded to numerous other interior applications at most all car companies worldwide.
The use of TPO skin on IPs was recognized in the industry in 1999, when GM won the SPE® Most Innovative Use of Plastics Award in the Body Interior category. This application was on the 2000 model year Bonneville instrument panel, developed by Inteva Products LLC, (formerly Delphi Interior Systems). The material was primarily Inteva Products co-extruded thin sheet with TPO compound from Mytex Polymers (formerly an Exxon Mobil Chemical and Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation joint venture). The team’s innovation was recognized for five industry firsts in North America. It was the first N.A. OEM TPO Skin instrument panel, first GM IP TPO skin alternative to PVC, first full (Upper & Lower) TPO IP, first TPO “deep draw” IP and first TPO airbag deployable skin/door.
It improved safety by enabling air bag deployments, and reduced windshield fogging with the reduction of VOCs and odors without plasticizers and toxic stabilizers also offering environmental benefits. The environmentally friendly all polyolefin system also enabled closed loop recycling and the replacement of PVC while reducing mass 10%. The TPO skin also improved interior quality by preventing brittle cracking, color fading (UV protection is improved by 4 times) and warping. Overall esthetics were improved by the dry haptic leather-like feel inherent in TPO skin.
Since 2008, when Delphi’s Interior division was sold to Inteva, Inteva has continued further development of TPO skin under the Inteather™ brand and has been recognized with a number of industry awards. Other industry recognition awards for this TPO technology developed and advanced by Inteva include: an SPE “Recycler of the Year” Award from the SPE Recycling Div. in 1999; an SPE Automotive Innovation Award for TPE material on an instrument panel on the 2008 Saab 9-7X in 2008; an SPE TPO – Engineered Polyolefin Recognition Award of an All Olefin, Soft Skin, Stitched Full Instrument Panel System in 2012. TPO for interior skin is now the global standard on a variety of interior applications. TPO use has continued to advance rapidly and become the dominate material for instrument panel skin. For example, since 2013 the use of TPO for IP skin has increased 54%.
On Wednesday, November 8, 2017, representatives from General Motors Corporation, Inteva Products (formerly Delphi Interior Systems), Mytex Polymers and Exxon Mobil will accept the award on behalf of the original team that worked to develop the TPO Skin IP on the Bonneville 2000 at the 47th- annual SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Program, at the Burton Manor in Livonia, Michigan. www.burtonmanor.net This is the oldest and largest competition of its kind in the world. Dozens of teams made up of OEMs, tier suppliers, and polymer producers submit nominations describing their part, system, or complete vehicle and why it merits the claim as the Year’s Most Innovative Use of Plastics. This annual event typically draws over 700 OEM engineers, automotive and plastics industry executives, and media. As is customary, funds raised from this event are used to support SPE educational efforts and technical seminars, which help educate and secure the role of plastics in the advancement of the automobile.
The mission of SPE is to promote scientific and engineering knowledge relating to plastics worldwide and to educate industry, academia, and the public about these advances. SPE’s Automotive Division is active in educating, promoting, recognizing, and communicating technical accomplishments in all phases of plastics and plastic-based composite developments in the global transportation industry. Topic areas include applications, materials, processing, equipment, tooling, design, and development.
For more information about the SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Competition and Gala see www.speautomotive.com. For more information on the Society of Plastics Engineers, see www.4spe.org.