A Structural Instrument Panel from Glass-Mat Thermoplastic for the Small-Car Market 970726
Designers and engineers encounter many challenges in developing vehicles for the small-car market. They face constant pressure to reduce both mass and cost while still producing vehicles that meet environmental and safety requirements. At the same time, today's discriminating consumers demand the highest quality in their vehicles. To accommodate these challenges, OEMs and suppliers are working together to improve all components and systems for the high-volume small-car market.
An example of this cooperative effort is a project involving an integrated structural instrument panel (IP) designed to meet the specific needs of the small-car platform. Preliminary validation of the IP project, which uses a compression-molded, glass-mat-thermoplastic (GMT) composite and incorporates steel and magnesium, indicates it will significantly reduce part count, mass, assembly time, and overall cost.
Investigation of the IP system by finite-element analysis (FEA) indicates the system demontrates the ability to pass Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 208 requirements for femur load and OEM requirements for noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH), while fulfilling consumer expectations. The concept-to-validation program, described in this paper, was undertaken by engineers and designers from two materials suppliers and one OEM organization to investigate the viability of the structural IP system.