A Comparison of Thermoplastic Composite vs.Conventional-Steel Instrument Panel Systems for Side-Impact Energy Management
This paper discusses the contribution of instrument panel systems in a European side-impact event. Systems studied include a conventional steel cross-car beam system and a glass-mat thermoplastic (GMT) composite system, evaluated in a body-in-white structure. A thermoplastic composite instrument panel system offers mass, cost, and recycling benefits, but its performance vs. a conventional steel cross-car beam system merited an engineering investigation. The comparison methodology used included a nonlinear dynamic side impact study with a moving, deformable barrier developed according to European Economic Community (EEC) standards. A finite-element model used in this study simulated the body-in-white structure, barrier structure and instrument panel systems. The resulting data include velocity, displacement and energy absorption levels of various components of the respective instrument panel systems.