BASF has developed a new resin that allows Ford to skip the clear-coat paint on high-touch interior trim pieces. Traditionally, such molded plastic pieces have been painted with a high-gloss finish to deliver both design and durability. With the new BASF polymer, however, Ford is able to skip that painting step, thereby reducing cost and environmental impacts during production of the 2013 Ford Fusion.
If clear-coat paint had been used on these particular parts with the new Fusion, it would have required Ford’s supplier to ship parts from Kalamazoo, Mich., to Grand Rapids, Mich. This added step would have involved fueling and operating a fleet of trucks that emit tons of carbon dioxide, and subsequently applying a high-gloss finish to the parts that would then emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere. By creating a new resin that is mar-resistant, this entire step was eliminated.
The round trip between the plastic part molder in Vicksburg, Mich., and the painter in Grand Rapids is 128 miles. It takes roughly 18 gallons of diesel fuel for the transport truck for each trip. The trip is made three days a week, which requires 54 gallons of fuel. Presuming 50 weeks per year of production, this means Ford is saving 2,700 gallons of diesel and eliminating 59,400 pounds of CO2 from Fusion production each year, simply by changing the material in the trim around the window switches.
This improved resin saves Ford significant dollars, but it also helps eliminate VOC from being released into the atmosphere, since the application of clear-coat paint is no longer required. As is so often the case with manufacturing, going green means saving green. We cut fuel usage, VOC and carbon emissions, and we save 50 percent on the cost of these parts alone.—Robert Bedard, Body Interior Core Engineer for Ford