Design and Development of a Thermoplastic Structural IP 2003-01-1388
An Instrument Panel (IP) cockpit is one of the most complex vehicle systems, not only because of the large number of components, but also because of the numerous design variations available. The OEM can realize maximum benefit when the IP cockpit is assembled as a module. This requires increased performance attributes including safety, durability, and thermal performance, while meeting styling and packaging constraints, and optimizing the program imperatives of mass and cost.
The design concept discussed in this paper consists of two main injection molded parts that are vibration welded to form a stiff structure. The steering column is attached to the cowl and plastic structure by a separate steel column support. The plastic IP structure with integrated ducts is designed and developed to enable the IP cockpit to be a modular system while realizing the benefits of mass and cost reduction. The design has been screened and optimized using engineering tools such as finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) in order to assess the structural, safety, noise-vibration-harshness (NVH), and airflow performance. The virtual stage was followed by an experimental validation on physical prototypes in order to prove the final concept. This paper describes the components, functionality and performance that make up the plastic structure system.