Traditional knee bolster designs consist of a first-surface plastic component covered by paint or vinyl skin and foam, with a subsurface steel plate that transfers knee loads to 2 steel crush brackets. The design was developed to meet FMVSS 208 and OEM requirements. More recently, technological developments have allowed for the steel plate to be replaced by a ribbed plastic structure, which offers cost and weight savings to the instrument panel system. However, it is still a hybrid system that combines plastic with the 2 steel crush brackets.
This paper will detail the development of an all-plastic design, which consolidates the plastic ribbed reinforcement plate with the 2 steel crush cans in a single engineering thermoplastic component. The new system is expected to offer further cost and weight savings. To develop this design in thermoplastics, it was necessary to understand and account for the dependence of the failure mode of these materials to changing strain rates, temperatures, and stress states.