The automobile is probably the most dangerous mode of transportation we use. There is about 200 times more risk of dying in a car accident than in an airplane crash. It is important for manufacturers to use strategies and ingenuity to optimize car safety. Over the years, they managed to find ways to better protect driver and passengers!
Auto Parts Made of Lightweight and Better Suited Materials
For the past decade, manufacturers have been using materials that are solid while being lightweight, which allows the car to better respond in a potential car crash.
Stronger Steel and Better Elasticity
Research and development in the automotive industry has found a way to use steel to better protect occupants during an impact. For example, high strength steel is hot-stamped and then quickly cooled. It becomes easily malleable and can better prevent its deformation. The goal is not to make cars indestructible, but rather to reduce weight and control the transfer of energy during a collision, meaning it is not absorbed by passengers, but instead, redistributed. Several materials, such as magnesium, aluminum and carbon fiber can be used strategically to help dissipate or redistribute shocks. As David Leone, chief executive engineer for Cadillac says: “heavy does not mean safe. Heavy means heavy. Go back to the ’50s and ’60s. The cars were heavy. They were stiff. But if you ran into the wall, you bounced off the wall and all the deceleration went through your body. Heavy and stiff is not where you want to be.”
Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) and Other Plastics: Ideal Complements
The EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that reducing vehicle weight can save approximately 451 lives per billion miles traveled. Plastics and polymers play a big role for that. They are more lightweight and more flexible than metals. For its part, expanded polypropylene (EPP) offers excellent impact resistance and shape memory. It is therefore used in places where these features are essential such as front and rear bumpers, doors, etc. Injuries can be avoided with these types of materials when strategically placed in specific zones. They also reduce the weight considerably without compromising safety. In fact, polymers made of fiber-reinforced composite materials weigh approximately 50% less than steel and have better compression energy absorption per kilogram.
Technologies that prevent accidents
There has been a lot of research to improve the response of an automobile in a collision. Crash simulations, airbags, driver assistants and more are all good examples. Improvements continue to grow, but the best way to protect the occupants is to prevent the collision from occurring. In cases where collision is unavoidable, the occupants will benefit of several high impact resistance materials including expanded polypropylene.
Take the First Step towards Lightweight Auto Parts
Several parts can easily be designed in EPP and contribute greatly to the vehicle’s weight reduction to ensure safer rides for all passengers. Do you have an idea or a project in the sector of automotive or recreational vehicles? Contact one of our representatives to discuss and discover our expertise.