1998-02-23

Evolution of Plastics IP Technology Technical Feasibility of Integrated Modular IP System 980435

Fully-integrated structural instrument panels (IP) have been in commercial use in passenger cars, light trucks, and sport utility vehicles for some years now. They offer a cost-effective alternative to the more traditional IP construction that utilizes full-size cross car beams to achieve the structural stiffness and energy management required to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 208 and corporate performance requirements. The natural evolution of interior designs demands an increasing level of integration of the different components in the interior of the vehicle. Therefore, the natural extension of current structural IP technology is to integrate the steering column subassembly, i.e., steering column and column support, and the heat, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit into a modular pre-assembled system. The present paper describes the concept design of a plastic modular IP that integrates all components and subassemblies in the environment limited by the IP first surface and the plenum and front of dash panel. The system utilizes the steering column support and the HVAC unit casing in a structural role to provide structural continuity across the vehicle. The modular IP utilizes the same basic structure of structural IP systems currently in production, and therefore, represents a technological extension of current proved systems. The assembly process of the modular system is also described comparing the proposed structure to equivalent systems currently in production.

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