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SPE’s Automotive Division Names 2022 Hall of Fame Winner

SPE Automotive Division names first mold-in color grille on 1987 VW Golf the 2022 Hall of Fame Winner

Photo Credit: SPE Automotive Division, VW Group

SPE’s Automotive Division recently announced the 2022 Hall of Fame Winner—the first mold-in color (MIC) weatherable front grille, which appeared on the 1987 VW Golf. This will be celebrated by honoring the technology and the companies and people originally involved in developing this application during SPE’s 51st annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition & Gala on November 2, 2022, at the Burton Manor in Livonia, Michigan.

This editor was once again delighted to be a participating judge of the SPE Automotive Blue Ribbon Awards contest for the seventh year in a row. We will have a report on the winners of this year’s ten categories (materials, aftermarket, body exterior, environmental, body interior, process assembly, electric, powertrain, additive manufacturing, and chassis/hardware) following the awards ceremony which will include the grand award winner.

Meanwhile, take a step back in time to marvel at the industry’s first MIC weatherable grille, made possible with Luran S ASA from Ineos Styrolution. Precolored plastic resins used in the plastic injection molding process so the molded part emerges in a specific color and finish, proved to be a game changer for vehicle front grilles by providing a weatherable, paint free exterior surface. 

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 broadly adopted in the automotive industry. This application certainly qualifies as MIC grilles have become the industry standard used by every major OEM for front grilles replacing traditionally painted materials on over 300M exterior parts including grilles, mirrors, pillars, spoilers, fog bezels and more.  Further technology now being developed around MIC ASA includes radar detection covers, lidar equipment, and CHMSL (Center High Mounted Stop Lamp) bezels.  The automotive market for MIC ASA has now grown to over 100 million lb/yr globally. 

The benefits of MIC grilles vs. painted front grilles include the elimination of the paint process, 25-35% cost savings ($25 per part), excellent wearability, high impact strength and excellent dimensional stability. The environmental benefits include a significant reduction in CO2 and VOC, energy usage and green-house gasses.  MIC grilles have had a huge impact on automotive design by enabling increased design flexibility including grained low gloss and smooth high gloss appearances and hot-foil stamping.

The companies involved in developing the first MIC weatherable grille application include: OEM – Volkswagen Group; Molder/Processor – Volkswagen Group; and Material Supplier, Ineos Styrolution. Representatives from these companies will accept the SPE Automotive Hall of Fame Award, on behalf of the original team that worked to develop the first MIC weatherable grille on the 1987 Volkswagen Golf, at the 2022 SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Gala.

The SPE Automotive Innovation Awards 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 800 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.


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