back to top
My wish lists
Save your wish list
If you want to add more content to your wish list, simply log in. If you do not have a user account, please register for the Hanser Customer Center.

» Do you already have a user account? Please log in here.
» Don't have a user account yet? Please register here.
Your wish lists
If you want to use your wish list during your next visit, simply log in. If you do not have a user account, please register for the Hanser Customer Center.
» Do you already have a user account? Please log in here.
» Don't have a user account yet? Please register here.

« Back

Your advantages at a glance

  • One login for all Hanser portals
  • Individual home page for faster access to preferred content
  • Exclusive access to selected content
  • Personal wish lists on all portals
  • Central management of your personal information and newsletter subscriptions

Register now
Deutsch
Bookmark Bookmarked
12-05-2005

Thermoforming of Auto Body Components

Front-end module of fibre-reinforced thermoplastics

Front-end module of fibre-reinforced thermoplastics

Fibre-reinforced composite materials are creating competition for their steel counterparts. A research project is currently being conducted to determine whether such parts are suitable from an economic standpoint for moderate-sized production runs in the automotive industry.

Lotus Engineering and Jacob Composite GmbH are cooperating in a joint research project to determine whether composite materials are suitable for automotive production from an economic standpoint. The objective of the “Ecolite Project” (“Efficient Composites – Lightweight and Thermoformed”) is to manufacture from composite materials a large auto body component from a vehicle that is produced in moderate quantities.

The Ecolite body components are produced by thermoforming semi-finished starting materials. Depending on the thermal and mechanical requirements, different glass fibre-reinforced thermoplastics such as PA, PBT and PS are employed. The impregnation and consolidation of the semi-finished starting materials play an important role in this regard.

This production method involves considerably lower investment than that for metal stamping dies and permits shorter cycle times than previous processing techniques based on thermosetting composite materials. Moreover, the omposite materials can be recycled and offer significant potential for weight savings.

Investigations using a front-end module

In the first phase of the project, the front-end module of a family car that achieved a high ranking in the Euro-NCAP crash test is being converted to the composite technology. The team is selecting the relevant materials and processes for the components of the crash structure for further development. The front-end module will then be subjected to a series of tests to compare the performance of this structure to that of its steel predecessor. At the same time, the suitability for mass production is being investigated.

In the second phase, the project will be extended to the remaining parts of the vehicle’s body. Lotus Engineering and Jacob Composite plan to present a complete composite auto body. Simultaneously, the economic viability for production runs of 30 000 to 50 000 units per year will be scrutinized. With additional materials development and new manufacturing techniques, it is expected that the technology can also be made economically attractive for higher production volumes.

In conjunction with advanced CAE techniques, especially for simulation of crash behaviour, sufficient data can be obtained quickly enough to permit rapid modification of the part design. The tooling is designed in a similar manner with the aid of a unique thermoforming simulation program. This contributes to shorter lead times and reduced investment.

Dr.-Ing. Harald Sambale
sambale <AT> kunststoffe.de

contact
Lotus Engineering
Potash Lane
UK Hethel Norwich NR14 8EZ
Tel: +44 1953 608423
Fax: +44 1953 608240


Jacob Composite GmbH
Manfred Jacob Kunststofftechnik GmbH
Bergstraße 31-35
DE 91489 Wilhelmsdorf
Tel: +49 9104 8270-0
Fax: +49 9104 618


Newsletter

Would you like to subscribe to our Newsletters on plastics technology and profit from the latest information?

Subscribe here

Subscribe here