Front Impact Evaluation of Primary Structural Components of a Composite Space Frame 880890
The efficient use of materials to absorb kinetic energy in automobile components subjected to impact loads has been receiving increased attention due to the reduced crush space on smaller vehicles. Substitution of lightweight materials into primary structural components has further accelerated the need to characterize the impact performance of a variety of new materials. This paper summarizes the results of an experimental program that was undertaken to investigate the impact performance of composite front-end components of a composite space frame based on a targa-top body configuration. Various front lower body rails designed with Kevlar-fiber composite materials were evaluated for energy absorption using static crush tests. A dynamic sled test of a Kevlar front substructure was completed and compared to a similar test of a mild steel front substructure. The static and dynamic tests showed that continuous-fiber composite primary structural members can be designed to manage energy absorption for frontal impact in a manner comparable to steel components.