Composite materials can offer significant safety benefits for vehicles compared with metals in terms of high specific energy absorption (SEA) and strength compared to weight.
Though metallic structures absorb energy through plastic deformation, composites absorb energy most efficiently through material fragmentation; Disintegration occurs along a crush front at the interface with the impactor. Composite materials offer unparalleled strength-to-weight ratios which when utilised in vehicle structural applications can considerably improve resistance to intrusion during a crash. Consequently, the load levels at which the safety cell collapses may be higher when using composites than conventional metallic vehicle structures, improving occupant safety and survivability.
Engenuity has been helping people design composite impact structures since 1990, starting with racing car nose cone structures. With benefit of real world testing of composite crash performance on Formula 1, Le Mans cars, supercars and numerous systems in aerospace and defence, over two decades, Engenuity has been instrumental in developing CZone composites crash analysis software, which is recognised as state-of-art technology for composite crash analysis, energy absorption and composite failure simulation.
Engenuity is in a unique position to offer guidance on structural optimisation, geometry development, improved material placement and construction of crush structures to maximize energy-absorbing capacity. This UK-based company co-authored the report "Crash Safety Assurance Strategies For Future Plastic And Composite Intensive Vehicles (PCIVs)" for the US Department of Transportation’s Future Plastic and Composite Intensive Vehicles (PCIVs) programme, as well as providing test and simulation expertise for leading Formula 1 teams, supercar designers and now the high volume vehicle manufacturers in the race to get designs on the streets in the next few years.