Editorial

The support of innovations, education and research of factors influencing the sustainable growth and competitiveness is strongly emphasized in the documents of European Union. The research and development, design, production, marketing and customer support are more integrated so they work together as a one part virtually connecting the customers and car producers. The car is a multi-material vehicle in present, therefore the knowledge of its physical, chemical and mechanical properties is necessary to combine with required properties of future car body components.

 

Design, Materials, Technologies and Passenger´s Safety are different worlds, although, despite its contradictory, strongly related. Design creates products and products are made of materials. Design gives functions to products and materials are chosen and formed by technologies to best incorporate those functions. However, design and materials must fulfil the safety requirements, concerning not only the passenger’s safety but also the environmental ones. Nowadays, the design is related to graphics and the virtual world observed on displays or advanced visualization techniques, mainly shaped in 3D space.
Concerning the car body design, aerodynamics is the key factor for the fuel efficiency and it is the first thing the customer’s interest. The droplet is still the ideal aerodynamic shape, but technology determines ways of making aerodynamic shapes. The recent legislation influences the passenger’s compartment design and the size and structure of deformation zones.
The most effort have been involved into developing and using materials to make cars lighter. The safety requirements and comfort specifications make the car’s weight grown. The increased requirements on body strength and rigidity for safety as well as the urge for weight reduction have led to an increased use of HSS in car bodies. Steel in not out as a cost effective material for car bodies. Compared to its alternatives steel takes little energy to produce and has good recycling capabilities. Aluminium is also used by Audi and Jaguar for car body parts. Volkswagen developed Super Light Car based on aluminium as well. The clever material mix seems to be the way forward. Composites are used as a perspective materials for car body parts not only for small volume parts. The major disadvantage for wide spread use is the cost of the part made from composites. The future perspective is a widespread use of composites to bring the substantial weight reduction of car body parts. The most promising in this respect is carbon fiber. Today the cost of a CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic) component is at least ten times that of metal, even though carbon fiber costs have dropped ten-fold in the last decade. New technologies will bring the cost down further. The application of composites will grow from body parts (SMC, GMT) to construction parts like leaf springs, crash cones and drive shafts.
The passenger’s safety at crash is determined by the size of the human body overloading. The deformation work for plastic deformation of deformation zone components in the engine compartment and trunk must be consumed during crash for absorption of the impact kinetic energy. Strengthen and stiffer components in the area of cab must prevent during crash the penetration of autobody components into passenger compartment.
The employees of the Department of Automotive Production took a part in research projects solved in the Institute of Technologies and Management, such as international projects INCO-Copernicus “Enviromental friendly lubricants in deep drawing of steel sheet metal“, CEEPUS project PL -1 “Metrology in Quality Assurance Systems“ and national projects VEGA and APVV. They are involved at present into projects APVV-0273-12 “Supporting innovations of autobody components from the steel sheet blanks oriented to the safety, the ecology and the car weight reduction” and VEGA 1/0824/12 “Study of formability aspects of coated steels sheets and tailored blanks”. Students are involved into the new faculty project “Small Electric Car for the Future on the Platform of VW e-up”.
The Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Kosice accredited the study programme “Automotive Production” for the 1st and the 2nd degree of the university study according to the requirements coming from the automotive production.

editorial 3 2015

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