The automobile industry is seeing an increased need for the application of plastics and their derivatives in various forms such as fiber reinforced plastics, in the design and manufacture of various automotive structural components, to reduce weight, cost and improve fuel efficiency. A lot of effort is being directed at the development of structural plastics, to meet specific automotive requirements such as stiffness, safety, strength, durability and environmental standards and recyclability.
This paper presents the many different conceptual cross sections being evaluated during the development of fiber reinforced plastic automotive cross sections. The concepts consists of foam filling of the fiber reinforced plastic cross sections with light weight metal or composite reinforcements. The metal reinforcement is in the form of lightweight metallic tubes. The composite reinforcement is in the form of a carbon fiber bundle. In particular the energy absorbed during a quasi-static crush test is considered.
Energy efficiency in terms of the energy absorbed per unit mass for each concept section is compared. The idea is to develop the lightest weight section possible with the maximum energy absorption capacity. Since fiber reinforced plastics are sensitive to temperature variations, some results on the energy absorption at elevated and reduced temperatures are also presented. Comments are made on plausible sections for maximum energy efficiency.