Under the hood of the 2012 Nissan Altima is a water outlet assembly that looks like an injection molder’s nightmare. It’s a manifold for the cooling system that has 10 undercut male barb ports—all without parting lines—that feed coolant to and from the transmission cooler, throttle cooler, heater core, and oil cooler, and also provides coolant to the radiator. It is molded with six cores and 12 shutoffs, all of them nonplanar. It also incorporates a press-in-place seal, sealed threaded insert, a wire-harness bracket, and oil drip rail, and it houses the thermostat. It’s molded in 33% glass-filled PPA (Amodel AS-1933HS from Solvay Specialty Polymers, Alpharetta, Ga.)
The molder, MPC, Inc., based in Walworth, Wis., says this part required advanced mold-filling analysis so as not to overpack the part and cause brittleness. It also required precisely timed hydraulics and mechanical actions to sequence five slides; and Scientific Molding was used to actuate multiple valve gates precisely based on temperature and pressure transducers. The moldmaker was Industrial Molds, Rockford, Ill.
Little wonder, then, that this part was recognized not once, but twice, with industry awards last year. It won the award for best Single Part in the 2nd International Plastics Design Competition, sponsored by SPI at the NPE2012 show in April, and was chosen as the Powertrain category winner at the SPE Automotive Innovation Awards in November.