Auto Service World
Feature   September 1, 2002   by Auto Service World

Bodyshop News: Will Plastics Help Cars Fix Themselves?

Are self-repairing bumpers in our future? A report from the American Plastics Council says so.

Among the technologies in the “Roadmap to Automotive Future” report from the council are plastic crash cages, plastic body panels that make it possible to maintain a showroom-floor shine for years and make painting obsolete, and lighter, more fuel-efficient and safer cars.

“Benefits such as these, as well as others that we haven’t yet imagined, will someday be possible because of the material advantages of plastics,” says Don Little, chair of the plastics industry’s automotive work group.

Plastics producers are building partnerships with automotive OEMs, suppliers, government agencies, and universities, with the goals of producing safer, more affordable, energy-efficient vehicles.

Working through the American Plastics Council (APC)–plastics makers are communicating these goals by making public a roadmap and technology vision for automotive plastics over the next 20 years.

“Plastics can help automotive OEMs and suppliers lower their design, tooling and production costs. We can help build a truly sustainable transportation infrastructure with cars that meet challenging safety or environmental mandates,” said Little. “Plastics will help make it easier to build cars consumers are excited to buy and drive.”

Today, an entire new class of “smart” plastics already exists that will enable even greater revolutionary changes in production and product performance. For instance, “smart” plastics have been developed, that can self-repair and in other ways provide the flexibility and performance needed to make plastics more functional and cost-effective than traditional automotive materials.

Plastics innovations also are resulting in other technological advances. Some racing car design teams are using plastics in certain structural applications because they offer sufficient strength and crash energy absorption at a dramatically lower weight. And as the racetrack has served as a laboratory for automotive innovation, it is likely that similar technology will be found in the chassis and body of consumer vehicles.

Coatings and films are now available that make windows stronger, reduce abrasion and wear, prevent heat absorption and demonstrate many other unique properties. Resin producers are working on plastics with paint-like finishes that they say will virtually eliminate the need to paint vehicles.

“We are fully aware of the challenges the auto and plastics industries face over the next decades. Still, we are confident that we offer the best portfolio of solutions for the automotive industry. We need to think about ways we invest in new technology. Plastics are too important to the future of the automotive industry not to have a seat at the automakers’ future concept development table,” said Little.

Largest PBE Distributor in North America Turns 50

Painters Supply and Equipment, perhaps the largest PBE distributor in North America, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in September.

The PBE jobber and PPG Platinum distributor headquartered in Taylor, Mich., has two warehouses and 36 locations in Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario. Painters Supply and Equipment now operates nine locations in southern Ontario, as well as a warehouse in London, Ont.

Founded by Chester “Chet” Taurence and his wife Arlene, the first store opened in September of 1952 in Lincoln Park, Mich. In 1953, Taurence began expanding his business, opening another store in Garden City, followed over the years with locations in East Detroit, Pontiac, Warren, Toledo and elsewhere.

In 1997 Taurence brought industry veteran Don Hannah aboard as president and CEO of the company. Hannah, a native of Toronto, Ont., began working in bodyshops in Toronto in 1949. He went to work for PPG Canada in 1960 as the company’s first technical service rep. By the 1980s, Hannah became national director of sales and eventually director of automotive refinish, North America. After his retirement from PPG, he went to work for Painters Supply and was instrumental in expanding the business into southern Ontario. In 1999 the company began purchasing locations and expanding in southwestern Ontario.

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