On November 8, 2023, Cascade Engineering joined Ford Motor Company at the 2023 SPE (Society of Plastics Engineers) Automotive Innovation Awards gala in Livonia, Michigan. The SPE Automotive Innovation Awards is one of the most prestigious industry honors, recognizing innovative use of plastics in the automotive and ground transportation industries. Teams of manufacturers, suppliers, and polymer producers submit nominations and presentations describing their part, system, or complete vehicle module.
A panel of industry-expert Blue Ribbon judges selected the Ford Frunk as the winner for both the Body Interior Innovation category award and the Grand Award, reigning over all categories. The Frunk, a shortened version of the words, ‘front’ and ‘trunk’, was developed for Ford Motor Company’s F-150 Lightning. Cascade Engineering was recognized and awarded for converting the Frunk from a compression-molded painted sheet-molding compound to a large Class A composite injection-molded part. This is currently the industry’s largest injection molded product piece. Cascade also contributed by reducing the piece’s mass by 48% and increasing Ford’s production by reducing cycle time by 37%. In addition, Cascade Engineering’s innovation eliminated the cost and environmental burden of paint, eliminated the secondary routering of holes, improved the seal interfaces, and, perhaps the most valuable innovation in this project, the ability of Cascade Engineering to make the Frunk fully recyclable at the end of its life. The innovative Frunk process utilizes a 4,000-ton injection press and a tool equipped with a 16-drop hot runner system to mold these parts.
Cascade recognizes that awards like this are not possible without an incredible team of innovative employees. Specifically, Rich Brouckaert and Ryan Cleaver for being instrumental in connecting with Ford on this opportunity, and Jeff Totten, Ben Masterson, Scott Russel, Jim Kilduff, Rich Peek, Scott Smith, Scott Brown, Drake Ellens, Jason Stevenson, Trent Van Sweden, Todd Mazurek, and Tim Kendall who collaborated and successfully implemented the production of the Ford Frunk.
Cascade Engineering’s Triple Bottom Line of People, Planet, and Profit allows for unparalleled innovation on all fronts. As the future of the automotive industry demands solutions to complex issues, Cascade continues the plight of progress with experienced minds that begin with the end in mind. With 50 years of experience in large tonnage plastic injection molding, and certified B Corporation status, Cascade Engineering is an automotive trailblazer. Receiving the SPE Automotive Innovation Award is a direct reflection of the values we put to work every day.
For additional reporting on the SPE Automotive Innovation Awards, check out these articles featuring Cascade Engineering.