An average instrument panel weighs over 30 pounds, representing only one to two percent of the car's total weight. Yet, these are particularly important pounds because today's IP has not only dramatically increased in its multi-functionality, it has become one of the most critical design and appearance parts found anywhere on or in the automobile. Even more exciting is the IP of upcoming model years because all the more will be required of it in functionality and design.
Making such an instrument panel possible has been a particularly challenging task. A host of new requirements have come into play, some of which in the past applied, but with only minor emphasis, and some of which simply did not apply at all. The material supplier, the assembler, the auto maker-all three have been striving to achieve the ideal IP of tomorrow, but there has been much difficultly in defining what “ideal” means. And with good reasons.
The limits for our new set of requirements have not been universally specified, for that matter, in the case of impending government regulations, not even clearly specified! In tandem with this, and magnifying the challenge, up until this point, suppliers and assemblers have faced material and processing limitations, beyond which certain things could not be achieved in instrument panel performance.
The goal of meeting, the new requirements has been a healthy competition, because everyone benefits-most of all the consumer, to whom the instrument panel has become more important than ever before in terms of safety, durability and style.
In this presentation, I will discuss the traditional IP specification for pre-1988 model year, examine the increasing number of specifications which are being called for in 1988 model year and beyond, and explore the new materials and processing systems which will meet these specifications.