Innovative Door Design for Commercial Vehicles 2014-01-2411
Design of body structures for commercial vehicles differs significantly from automotive due to government, design and usage requirements. Specifically, heavy truck doors are not required to meet side impact requirements due to their height off the ground as compared to automobiles. However, heavy truck doors are subjected to higher loads, longer life, and cannot experience permanent deformation from overload events.
Aluminum has been used intensively in commercial vehicle doors and cab structures for over 50 years by several different manufacturers in North America. It has been only in the last few years that aluminum has appeared in automotive door structures other than in high-end luxury vehicles. Commercial vehicle customers are expecting the same features found in premium automobiles resulting in opportunities to learn from each other's designs.
In order to optimize the strength and weight of a commercial vehicle door, a new aluminum intensive structure was developed. The new structure featured a unique architecture that was the first in the industry to use a multi-cavity aluminum extrusion joined to stamped sheet reinforcements in order to provide a direct load path between the hinges and the latch. The shape of the extrusion also allows the use of a one piece glass and door mounted mirror.
The “barn door” architecture of the inner structure of the door allowed for gauge optimization of the both the inner and outer stampings, the two largest and heaviest components of the assembly. Additionally, the use of an extrusion allowed for a single drop glass for improved visibility and the ability to use a door mounted mirror with only one extra reinforcement.
Overall the design architecture used in the new doors provide best in class structural performance, sealing and features normally found in luxury automobiles for the first time in the heavy truck industry.