AGRR Magazine

Bayer MaterialScience LLC Highlights Non-traditional Automotive Roof Systems at SPE Automotive Composites Conference

Bayer MaterialScience LLC will make a technical presentation at the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Automotive Composites Conference and Exhibition in Troy, Mich., Sept. 12-14, 2006, outlining innovative concepts that allow a vehicle to be fitted with a wide variety of roof "modules," each having customized performance, content and value. Spurring the presentation is the growing trend in the automotive industry to offer more "non-traditional" roof configurations to the consumer. In many cases, the non-traditional roof contains glass, guides, drives and other hardware that increase the cost and weight of the vehicle.

Consequently, suppliers are challenged to offer designs that use lightweight materials and integrate or eliminate components while at the same time maintain or improve overall vehicle structural and dimensional performance.

David Rocco, senior engineering specialist with the Applications Engineering Group of Bayer MaterialScience, will deliver the presentation, titled Polymer Based Composite Roof Systems. Other contributors to the presentation include Doug Stratton, project leader, future business, Automotive Industry Innovation, and Paul Platte, director of Automotive Industry Innovation, both of Bayer MaterialScience. Rocco, Stratton and Platte also developed a paper titled A Modular Automotive Roof System Design Concept Based on Polyurethane Composite Technology, which will be published by SPE as part of the 2006 Automotive Composites Conference and Exhibition.

The presentation, which examines the roof concept's value in terms of weight savings, parts integration, safety, assembly and vehicle rigidity, outlines two vehicle architectures - the "Over the Top" roof module and the "Recessed" roof module - and two roof module constructions - the "One-piece Design" and the "Two-piece Design."

According to the presentation, the modular concept offers a number of technical and economic benefits to OEMs, including:

  • weight reduction

  • design and styling freedom

  • in-mold features

  • attachment points

  • parts integration

  • fixed or moveable window design

  • improved roll-over safety due to the lowered center of gravity

  • possible use across car platforms

"A modular roof concept such as this could allow an OEM to offer the consumer a number of roof options for his vehicle, something that is not practical with existing roof construction methods and materials. Furthermore, since the roof module is ready to assemble, it offers a path forward for the supply chain," explained Rocco, who will review conceptual designs, roof module construction, materials and performance characteristics during his presentation. "This, in turn, enables OEMs to decrease capital expenditures and reduce labor hours required to manufacture a vehicle."

To illustrate the real-world viability of the innovative roofing concept, Rocco will present the finite element analysis (FEA) results of a case study conducted on the Dodge Caravan. The case study shows a significant weight reduction, with an overall increase in vehicle rigidity.

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