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Supplier Dow becomes a molder too at Ford Brazil site

SpecialChem / Dec 10, 2002
BAHIA, BRAZIL, Dec. 10 -- Dow Automotive has built a 12,000-sq-m injection molding and window encapsulation plant employing 200 at Ford Motor Co.'s newest manufacturing complex here.

Molding more than 20 polypropylene components for the Ford Fiesta - including front and rear fascias, instrument panel components, and interior/exterior trim - the Dow plant represents the first time it has operated "an independent manufacturing facility" to supply a customer with plastic parts, according to the company. The Dow building is immediately adjacent to the Ford complex, which is called the "Amazon project" by the auto maker.

"This facility provides a great opportunity to showcase future innovative products and materials in an exciting and growing market," says Larry Denton, Dow Automotive president. Dow has put in place resources at its facility for ongoing technical development, R&D, manufacturing, and production support, the company says.

The on-site Dow Automotive plant contains 12 injection olding machines ranging from 300 to 2300 metric tons, welding and assembly equipment, and what it says is a fully automated fascia painting line. The plant utilizes the company's Betaseal polyurethane glass bonding system for encapsulation of the windshield and rear windows of the Fiesta in a robotic, primerless process. In addition, the Dow plant injection molds two large IP parts - a retainer and a reinforcing air duct - for delivery to Visteon Corp., which operates an assembly and finishing facility within the main Ford plant.

Currently, the Dow operation utilizes four of its base PP resins, along with a thermoplastic olefin product for the front and rear fascia, with color concentrates used for color matching. Resins supplied by other producers have also been qualified for use in the Fiesta.

Bob Rogowski, Dow Automotive's director of integrated sites, a newly-created position, says his company's new facility offers unique quality and performance benefits for Ford. The fact that one manufacturing facility is responsible for part design, material supply, and molding provides the capability to ensure that components are consistent in terms of exacting requirements such as color match, dimensional stability, and surface finish, he claims.


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