Structural Instrument Panel: Synthesis Approach 950579

A design team consisting of engineers from a vehicle platform, body engineering, synthesis & analysis, and suppliers, was formed to accomplish the design, analysis, and prototype manufacturing of a structural instrument panel (IP). The IP design and packaging requirements, material optimization, processing input, and finite element method (FEM) analysis, were combined to develop a feasible design. The structural IP consists mainly of a cross-car beam and a carrier. The structural cross-car beam connects the front body hinge pillars and supports the steering column bracket and HVAC. It provides a restraint surface for the knee bolster and the supplemental inflatable restraint system (SIR), and reacts to barrier and torso impact loads. For the given packaging constraints, a preliminary design was developed to define the structural configuration. Material selection and optimization studies conducted on several design concepts proved to be of great importance in the synthesis approach. FEM analysis verified the basic concept for various performance criteria and optimized the final design. Static and dynamic tests were performed to verify the structural and safety requirements. The structural IP concept has many distinct advantages over a conventional IP system. This new design concept provides parts consolidation and reduced assembly costs. It also provides less lead time due to increased flexibility in the design and assembly process. The synthesis approach, which took into account the performance requirements, design, material and manufacturing, has contributed confidence in being able to design a structural IP system. The test results served as a validation of the design synthesis approach and design verification of the structural IP.


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