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Technical Paper

Prototype Design and Testing of a Thermoplastic Steering Wheel Armature

2007-04-16
2007-01-1218
Basic automotive steering wheel armature design has been largely unchanged for years. A cast aluminum or magnesium armature is typically used to provide stiffness and strength with an overmolded polyurethane giving shape and occupant protection. A prototype steering wheel armature made from a unique recyclable thermoplastic eliminates the casting while meeting the same stiffness, impact, and performance criteria needed for the automotive market. It also opens new avenues for styling differentiation and flexibility. Prototype parts, manufacturing, and testing results will be covered.
Technical Paper

A Low Cost, Lightweight Solution for Soft Seamless Airbag Systems

2004-03-08
2004-01-1485
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

Predicting the Bumper System Response of Engineering Thermoplastic Energy Absorbers with Steel Beams

2002-03-04
2002-01-1228
An efficient energy absorber (EA) will absorb impact energy through a combination of elastic and plastic deformation. However, the EA is typically coupled with a steel reinforcing beam, which can also elastically and plastically deform during an impact event. In order to design and optimize an EA/Beam system that will meet the specified vehicle impact requirements, the response of the entire assembly must be accurately predicted. This paper will describe a finite element procedure and material model that can be used to predict the impact response of a bumper system composed of an injection molded thermoplastic energy absorber attached to a steel beam. The first step in the process was to identify the critical material, geometric, and boundary condition parameters involved in the EA and Beam individually. Next, the two models were combined to create the system model. Actual test results for 8km/hr.
Technical Paper

Two-Shot and Overmolding Technology for Automotive Applications Using Engineering Thermoplastics

2002-03-04
2002-01-0274
There are a multitude of opportunities to utilize two-shot or overmolding technology in the automotive industry. Two-shot or overmolding a thermoplastic elastomer onto a rigid substrate can produce visually appealing, high quality parts. In addition, use of this technology can offer the molder significant reductions in labor and floor space consumption as well as a reduction in system cost. Traditionally, two-shot applications were limited to olefinbased TPE's and substrates, which often restricted rigidity, structure and gloss levels. With the development of thermoplastic elastomers that bond to engineering thermoplastics, two-shot molding can now produce parts that require higher heat, higher gloss and greater structural rigidity. This paper will outline engineering thermoplastics that bond with these new elastomers, discuss potential applications, and review circumstances that offer the best opportunity to call upon the advantages of two-shot and overmolding technology.
Technical Paper

Conductive Plastics Leading Fuel Door Technology

2002-03-04
2002-01-0278
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

Thinwall Injection Molding for Instrument Panels

2001-03-05
2001-01-1272
As the global auto industry wrote the final chapter on its first century, we saw the average thickness of an automotive instrument panel drop from 3.0 mm-3.5 mm to 2.0 mm-2.3 mm, as found in the 1999 Volkswagen Jetta and Golf. By reducing the wall thickness of the instrument panel, Volkswagen started an industry trend: both OEMs and tiers are investigating technologies to produce parts that combine a lower cost-per-part via material optimization and cycle-time reduction with the superior performance of engineering thermoplastics. The goal is to produce parts that are positioned more competitively at every stage of the development cycle - from design, to manufacturing, to assembly, to “curb appeal” on the showroom floor. The key to this manufacturing and design “sweet spot” is a technology called thinwall - the molding of plastic parts from engineering thermoplastics with wall thicknesses thinner than conventional parts of similar geometry.
Technical Paper

Temperature Measurement Errors in Automotive Lighting

2001-03-05
2001-01-0859
This paper examines a variety of thermocouple and infrared measurement techniques as means of obtaining accurate and consistent temperature measurements within a headlamp system. While measuring temperature is straightforward in principle, in practice, these measurements are fraught with potential error. The paper summarizes a succession of experiments conducted at our Parts Design Center (formerly the Application Development Resource Center) in Pittsfield, MA. These experiments lead to the ability to accurately measure temperature at a given location within a lamp assembly. Using these studies and the resulting transfer functions as a foundation, a Design of Experiment (D.O.E.) is presented which explores the effect of a variety of headlamp design factors on the surface temperature of a headlamp reflector at a given location.
Technical Paper

Lightweight Thermoplastic Composite Throttle Bodies for Car and Truck Applications

2001-03-05
2001-01-1140
The drive to reduce weight, simplify assembly, and cut total system cost in today's vehicles is relentless. Replacing metal systems with thermoplastics has been of considerable interest in the engineering community. The current generations of engineering thermoplastic resins are enabling the use of plastic systems in demanding underhood applications. Technical data and discussion regarding the materials, design, molding, and assembly of lightweight composite throttle bodies will be presented in this paper. Comparisons with machined aluminum throttle housings are drawn to establish a baseline with the throttle body housing component that is most common in production today. Design flexibility and process simplification are some of the approaches highlighted. Much of the technical information provided in the paper applies to both cable driven mechanical throttle bodies as well as electronic throttle bodies under development.
Technical Paper

USCAR/EWCAP Requirements & Materials to Meet the Challenge

2000-03-06
2000-01-0042
Traditionally, the automotive electrical industry has used thermoplastic polyesters, nylon, and nylon alloys for its primary plastic applications. Current materials-specification trends in this segment are being dictated by 10-year warranty requirements (USCAR's EWCAP tests), higher functionality, increased pin densification, and elevated operating temperatures. This paper will discuss the implications of these trends and discuss materials approaches needed to address both application and manufacturing challenges.
Technical Paper

Performance Evaluations of Polyolefins vs. Engineering Thermoplastics for Blow Molded Bumper Beams for Mid-Size Vehicles – Part II

1999-03-01
1999-01-1015
The consumption of blow molded bumpers for passenger vehicles is increasing, particularly for small to mid-size vehicles. The performance required for bumpers in this class of vehicles varies by geographic region, as “global” vehicles are increasingly specified outside of the United States. For this reason, it is important to understand the impact performance provided by materials that could be blow molded into bumpers for this class of vehicles. This paper will compare the relative performance of polycarbonate/polybutylene terephthalate (PC/PBT) alloys vs. polyolefins for impact protection, weight, and processing performance.
Technical Paper

Thermoplastic Materials for Throttle Body Applications

1999-03-01
1999-01-0316
Use of thermoplastic materials for throttle body applications can offer substantial weight, cost, and integration benefits. This paper will discuss the many elements that comprise materials selection, as well as the design and testing of composite throttle bodies. Polyetherimide (PEI), polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) materials will be discussed and compared as candidates for automotive throttle bodies. The focus areas that will be covered in this paper include: Materials Selection - The criteria for materials selection will be discussed and the properties of candidate thermoplastics compared with key requirements of throttle body applications. Bore and Plate Dimensional Stability and Consistency - The effects of thermal cycling, coefficient of thermal expansion, humidity, and design will be discussed, as well as their relation to bore/plate air leakage.
Technical Paper

Abusive Testing of Thermoplastic vs. Steel Bumpers Systems

1998-02-23
980106
Over the last decade, on small- and medium-size passenger cars, a new class of front bumper - injection or blow molded from engineering thermoplastics - has been put into production use. These bumper systems provide full 8-km/hr federal pendulum and flat-barrier impact protection, as well as angled barrier protection. Thermoplastic bumpers, offering weight, cost, and manufacturing advantages over conventional steel bumper systems, also provide high surface finish and styling enhancements. However, there remain questions about the durability and engineering applicability of thermoplastic bumper systems to heavier vehicles. This paper presents results of a preliminary study that examines the durability of thermoplastic bumpers drawn from production lots for much lighter compact, and mid-size passenger cars against baseline steel bumper systems currently used on full-size pickup truck and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs). Bumpers were subjected to U.S.
Technical Paper

First One-Piece, Injection-Molded Thermoplastic Front-Bumper System for a Light Truck

1998-02-23
980107
The first single-piece, injection-molded, thermoplastic, front bumper for a light truck provides improved performance and reduced cost for the 1997 MY Explorer® Ltd. and 1988 MY Mountaineer® truck from Ford Motor Company. Additionally, the system provides improved impact performance, including the ability to pass 5.6 km/hr barrier impact tests without damage. Further, the advanced, 1-piece design integrates fascia attachments, reducing assembly time, and weighs 8.76 kg/bumper less than a baseline steel design. The complete system provides a cost savings vs. extruded aluminum and is competitive with steel bumpers.
Technical Paper

Consistency of Thermoplastic Bumper Beam Impact Performance

1998-02-23
980113
This paper will address several critical aspects of bumper system performance, including vehicle damage protection and crash-severity sensing considerations, energy-absorption capacity and efficiency, and low-speed impact consistency and sensitivity to temperature changes. The objective is to help engineers and designers establish a realistic perspective of the capability of the various technologies based on actual test performance. The scope of the evaluation will include a comparison of several bumper-beam material constructions when subjected to a 16-km/hr swinging barrier impact over a range of temperatures the bumper could see in service (-30 to 60C).
Technical Paper

Design and Development of a Generic Door Hardware Module Concept

1998-02-23
980999
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

1997-02-24
970143
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

1997-02-24
970144
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

Development of a Blow Molded, Thermoplastic Front Bumper System Offering Angled Barrier Protection

1997-02-24
970486
A new front bumper, blow molded from an engineering thermoplastic, is being used to provide full 8 km/h federal pendulum and flat-barrier impact protection, as well as angled barrier protection on a small passenger car. The low intrusion bumper is compatible with the vehicle's single-sensor airbag system and offers a 5.8 kg mass savings compared with competitive steel/foam systems. This paper will describe the design and development of the bumper system and the results achieved during testing.
Technical Paper

Design and Development of an Engineering Thermoplastic Energy Absorbing System for Automotive Knee Bolsters

1997-02-24
970725
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.
Technical Paper

A Structural Instrument Panel from Glass-Mat Thermoplastic for the Small-Car Market

1997-02-24
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.
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