Canadian Plastics

How to Make Large Thermoplastic Body Panels With Good Fit

Since the 1990 introduction of the all-plastic exterior Saturn, interest in expanding applications of polymer body panels has continued to grow. One of the most significant engineering challenges in t...

May 1, 2002   Canadian Plastics



Since the 1990 introduction of the all-plastic exterior Saturn, interest in expanding applications of polymer body panels has continued to grow. One of the most significant engineering challenges in this area is how to develop a hybrid closure system composed of dissimilar materials for the inner and outer panels that maintains body gap and flush and provides proper interface with all adjacent sub-systems. A key to achieving this objective is managing thermal expansion and contraction of body panel systems.

In a study presented at the Society of Automotive Engineers show in March, Patricia Tibbenham of Ford Motors and David Dean of GE Plastics examined the thermal growth management requirements of a hybrid liftgate system constructed of a PC/ABS outer panel and a lightweight metallic inner panel. The researchers found that thermal growth can be reduced by driving the growth of the rearward panel into the rearward shape or “pillowing” the panel outward. For a copy of the paper (ref. # 2002-01-0276) call SAE at 724-776-4841.


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