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Technical Paper

A Low Cost, Lightweight Solution for Soft Seamless Airbag Systems

OEM and Tier One integrated suppliers are in constant search of cockpit system components that reduce the overall number of breaks across smooth surfaces. Traditionally, soft instrument panels with seamless airbag systems have required a separate airbag door and a tether or steel hinge mechanism to secure the door during a deployment. In addition, a scoring operation is necessary to ensure predictable, repeatable deployment characteristics. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the development and performance of a cost-effective soft instrument panel with a seamless airbag door that results in a reduced number of parts and a highly efficient manufacturing process. Because of the unique characteristics of this material, a cost-effective, lightweight solution to meet both styling requirements, as well as safety and performance criteria, can be attained.
Technical Paper

Managing Thermal Growth for Large Class “A” Polymer Body Panel Closure Systems

The history behind Polymer Class “A” Body Panels for automotive applications is very interesting. The driving factors behind these applications have not changed significantly over the past sixty years. Foremost among these factors is the need for corrosion and dent resistance. Beginning with Saturn in 1990, interest in polymer body panels grew and continues to grow up to the present day, with every new global application. Today, consumers and economic factors drive the industry trend towards plastic body panels. These include increased customization and fuel economy on the consumer side. Economic factors such as lower unit build quantities, reduced vehicle mass, investment cost, and tooling lead times influence material choice for industry. The highest possible performance, and fuel economy, at the lowest price have always been a goal.
Technical Paper

Conductive Plastics Leading Fuel Door Technology

This paper will discuss, compare, and contrast current materials, designs, and manufacturing options for fuel filler doors. Also, it will explore the advantages of using conductive thermoplastic substrates over other materials that are commonly used in the fuel filler door market today. At the outset, the paper will discuss the differences between traditional steel fuel filler doors, which use an on-line painting process, and fuel filler doors that use a conductive thermoplastic substrate and require an in-line or off-line painting process. After reviewing the process, this paper will discuss material options and current technology. Here, we will highlight key drivers to thermoplastics acceptance, and look at the cost saving opportunities presented by the inline paint process option using a conductive thermoplastic resin, as well as benefits gained in quality control, component storage and coordination.
Technical Paper

Predicting Impact Performance of Painted Thermoplastic Exterior Body Panels

Automotive exterior paint systems can significantly affect the impact performance of thermoplastic body panels. To utilize the benefits of predictive engineering as a tool to assist in the design and development of thermoplastic body panels, thermoplastic body panel materials have been characterized with typical automotive paint systems for use for finite element modeling and analysis. Paint systems used for exterior body panels can vary from rigid to more flexible, depending on the vehicle manufacturer's specifications. Likewise, thermoplastics for body panels vary in mechanical properties, primarily depending on the heat performance requirements of the application. To understand the effects of paint systems on impact performance of thermoplastic body panels, two different paint systems, representing “rigid” and “more flexible,” were evaluated on two body panel grades of thermoplastics with different mechanical properties.
Technical Paper

Engineering Development and Performance of an Integrated Structural Instrument Panel Assembly and Heater-Ventilation-Air-Conditioning Assembly

Textron Automotive Trim, Valeo Climate Control, and Torrington Research Company, with assistance from GE Plastics, have developed an integrated instrument panel system to meet ever-increasing industry targets for: Investment and piece-cost reduction; Mass/weight savings; Quality and performance improvements; Packaging and space availability; Government regulation levels; and Innovative technology. This system, developed through feedback with the DaimlerChrysler Corporation, combines the distinctive requirements of the instrument panel (IP) with the heater-ventilation-air-conditioning (HVAC) assembly. Implementing development disciplines such as benchmarking, brainstorming, and force ranking, a number of concepts were generated and evaluated. Using a current-production, small, multi-purpose vehicle environment, a mainstream concept was designed and engineered.
Technical Paper

Engineering Thermoplastic Energy Absorbers for Bumpers

Automotive styling trends point to reduced bumper overhang, greater sweeps, and reduced overall package space for the bumper system. At the same time engineers are charged with improving bumper performance to reduce collision repair costs and enhance occupant safety further. Two key performance parameters for the bumper to meet these conflicting objectives are fast but controlled loading and efficient energy absorption (EA). The majority of today's North American passenger-car bumper systems consist of a reinforcing bar either of steel, aluminum, or composite construction, and an energy absorption media. The most widely used energy-absorber construction is made from an expanded-polypropylene foam (EPP). Honeycomb energy absorbers, which are made from an ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) copolymer, are also still used on some of today's cars. This paper will address an alternative to the bumper energy absorber systems described above.
Technical Paper

A Study to Define the Relationship of Bulk Resistivity and Paint Transfer Efficiency Using a Conductively Modified Thermoplastic Resin

Electrostatic painting of exterior body components is considered standard practice in the automotive industry. The trend toward the use of electrostatic painting processes has been driven primarily because of environmental legislation and material system cost reduction efforts. When electrostatically painting thermoplastic body panels, side by side with sheet metal parts, it is imperative that the thermoplastic parts paint like steel. Electrostatic painting of thermoplastics has traditionally required the use of a conductive primer, prior to basecoat and clearcoat application. The use of conductive plastics eliminates the need for this priming step, while improving paint transfer efficiency and first pass yield. These elements provide an obvious savings in material and labor. The most significant benefit, is the positive environmental impact that occurs through the reduction in the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOC's).
Technical Paper

Design and Development of a Generic Door Hardware Module Concept

This paper documents the design methodology, part performance, and economic considerations for a generic hardware module applied to a front passenger-car door. Engineering thermoplastics (ETPs), widely used in automotive applications for their excellent mechanical performance, design flexibility, and parts integration, can also help advance the development of modular door-hardware systems. Implementation of these hardware carriers is being driven by pressures to increase manufacturing efficiencies, reduce mass, lower part-count numbers, decrease warranty issues, and cut overall systems costs. In this case, a joint team from GE Plastics, Magna-Atoma International/Dortec, and Excel Automotive Systems assessed the opportunity for using a thermoplastic door hardware module in a current mid-size production vehicle. Finite-element analysis showed that the thermoplastic module under study withstood the inertial load of the door being slammed shut at low, room, and elevated temperatures.
Technical Paper

Why Thermoplastic Door Hardware Systems Make Economic Sense Now

Engineering thermoplastics are widely used in a variety of automotive components systems because of their excellent balance of mechanical performance, design flexibility, aesthetics, parts integration, and low specific gravity. This combination of properties allows for the creation of highly integrated modules, which can increase assembly efficiency and reduce mass, part count, warranty and ergonomic issues, and systems costs. As a result, the use of engineering thermoplastic materials can enhance market competitiveness at a time of increased global competition. To evaluate the economic advantages of polymers in a specific vehicle system, a design for assembly (DFA) case study was conducted with the goal of determining the variable system cost case for a generic thermoplastic door module system vs. conventional-build door systems based on assembly savings gains. This paper will describe the study and show the results achieved.
Technical Paper

Optimizing Parts and Systems Integration with Engineering Thermoplastics to Meet the Challenges of Future Automotive Door Systems

As automakers struggle to meet often conflicting safety, weight, styling, and performance requirements, engineering thermoplastics (ETPs) are making increasing inroads into applications that once were the exclusive domain of metals, glass, and thermosets. A good example of this is in the door systems area, where the performance, design flexibility, aesthetics, parts integration, and lower specific gravity offered by ETPs are allowing highly integrated and efficient modules to be created that, in turn, increase assembly efficiency and reduce mass, part count, warranty issues, and systems costs. This paper will use several case studies on innovative door hardware modules and door panels to illustrate the advantages offered by this versatile class of engineering materials.
Technical Paper

Engineering Plastics for Novel Automotive Applications

Not only have engineering thermoplastics secured an accepted place in automotive manufacture, but also their penetration of areas traditionally the sole domain of metals, is growing. One group of materials in particular is driving this trend; that of advanced thermoplastic composites. Used primarily in non-appearance, semi-structural parts, thermoplastic composites are opening the way for engineering polymers to be used in large components such as tailgates, technical fascia's or front end modules, side doors and bonnets, amongst many other novel applications whose engineering criteria could previously be met only by steel. This paper will look at both the new opportunities for engineering plastics in automotive applications and at the materials capable of economically satisfying their demands
Technical Paper

Estimation of Lateral Rail Loads Incurred During Pendulum Impacts

A technique for estimating the lateral loads exerted on the vehicle frame during centerline pendulum impacts has been developed. These loads can either be determined by sophisticated hand calculations or by using beam finite-element analysis. The loads can either be determined as a fraction of the peak impact load, or as an absolute number. The dependence of the lateral load on frame stiffness, bumper cross-section, and bumper sweep will be shown to be quite dramatic.
Technical Paper

Field Performance and Repair of Thermoplastic Exterior Body Panel Systems

Thermoplastic body panels are emerging in the industry as automotive manufacturers seek to design for advanced aerodynamic styling, lower weight, and cost effective vehicles. To best exhibit the advantages of GE thermoplastic resins in these applications, an extensive study has been completed to demonstrate the impact performance of thermoplastic body panels in the field based on the current success with the Buick LeSabre T-Type, Buick Reatta, and the Cadillac Deville and Fleetwood models using NORYL GTX® 910 resin fenders. This study provides a “real life” scenario of the advantages of thermoplastics compared to steel in body panel applications.