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Newsroom Lear Seating and Interior Innovations Honored at Society of Plastics Engineers' Innovation Awards Gala


SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Nov. 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Lear Corporation (NYSE: LEA) today announced it received two awards at this year's Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE®) International - Automotive Division's 36th-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition & Gala. The company's products were recognized as the "Year's Most Innovative Use of Plastics" in two recognition categories: Lear's FreeForm™ proprietary injection-molding process was a winner in the Process category and Lear's structural blow-molded seatback was a winning submission in the Safety category.

The results were recently announced at SPE's Innovation Awards Gala, which annually honors the best in automotive plastics. This year's program featured eleven categories of nominations covering applications that demonstrated remarkable cost and environmental improvement while providing added value in weight and performance.

Lear's FreeForm technology enables cost-effective manufacturing of large interior plastic panels with multiple materials in one machine. The new technology is being used by Lear to produce door bolsters for the 2007 Dodge Caliber. Lear FreeForm molding provides a well-crafted interface between colors and textures, whereas other methods require painting, secondary operations or multiple components.

The all plastic blow-molded seatback supplied by Lear for the 2007 Audi TT roadster features Dow Automotive's Pulse 2200BG PC/ABS material. The structure meets strict European safety legislation, including ECE 17 luggage retention, as well as other globally mandated requirements. Because the PC/ABS blow molded seatback replaced metal, a significant weight savings of almost 2.4 kg (5 lb) per vehicle was realized as well as a notable cost savings.

"Consumers expect interior components with new and creative design processes, coupled with improved materials and precision fit and finish," said Doug DelGrosso, president and chief operating officer of Lear. "Our ultimate goal is to deliver the quality and craftsmanship consumers want, while finding new ways to improve efficiency and lower cost for Lear and its customers."

The FreeForm process utilizes the Husky Quadloc Tandem Index (QTI) -- an injection-molding solution that employs two identical cores that rotate a substrate to an adjacent 'new' cavity where a TPE skin is then overmolded. The final part can either be partially or fully covered by the skin, allowing the designer to put tactile surfaces in optimal locations.

"The process we are using to produce the Dodge Caliber bolster is proving to be a game-changer for molded plastics," continued DelGrosso. We believe a multi-material automotive application such as Lear's FreeForm technology provides an ideal solution in the ongoing quest to improve quality and competitiveness."

Unique to the manufacturing process is the ability to mold large components in one 60-second cycle time, eliminating secondary parts, presses, labor and equipment. In addition to delivering a complete part with less downstream assembly and lower operating costs, a major benefit is enhanced quality as a result of the QTI's ability to produce molded-in gaps to produce crisp lines and improved fit and finish.

Another key advantage is flexibility. The equipment is designed so that Lear manufacturing engineers are not limited to a two-shot process. Additionally, the technology allows Lear to mold-in any surface finish its customer desires, including multiple colors, textures and grains. In addition to providing a soft impression within the interior, the finished product adds a warm feel and high degree of differentiation within the vehicle's cabin for improved craftsmanship over other covered interior components. The process also is safer and more environmentally friendly than existing solutions, such as soft touch paints which are harmful to the environment.

SPE's Innovation Awards program is the largest competition of its kind in the world, as well as the oldest and largest in the automotive and plastics industries. Dozens of teams made up of OEMs, tier suppliers, and polymer producers submit nominations describing their part, system or complete vehicle module and why it merits the claim as Year's Most Innovative Use of Plastics. Funds raised from this event are used for SPE educational efforts and technical seminars, which will help secure the role of plastics in advancement of the automobile.

Lear Corporation is one of the world's largest suppliers of automotive interior systems and components. Lear provides complete automotive seating systems, electronic products and electrical distribution systems as well as interior trim components. With annual net sales of $17.1 billion in 2005, Lear ranks #127 among the Fortune 500. The Company's world-class products are designed, engineered and manufactured by a diverse team of more than 110,000 employees in 34 countries. Lear's headquarters are in Southfield, Michigan, and Lear is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol [LEA]. Further information about Lear is available on the Internet at .

SOURCE: Lear Corporation

CONTACT: Andrea Puchalsky of Lear Corporation, +1-248-447-1651

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Posted on 11/28/2006

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