Exploring Composite Body Panels on Vehicles
She kicks the tires. Not bad, maybe too clean, but we can fix that, she thinks. Ray is positively drooling. He scurries to the driver's side of the 4-door sedan and hops inside. In his enthusiasm, the slam of his door echoes across the high-ceilinged showroom and an unaccustomed frown grows on his face. "Did you hear that?" he demands of his wife, Diane, as she joins him on the passenger side. She stares back inquiringly, one brow lifted. "The door," he replies, as if explaining to a small child. When she still doesn't seem to comprehend him, he grumbles, "It just doesn't sound right is all."
A salesman's face appears at the window with an understanding smile. "Well, we have put more baffling in the panels, but I think you're referring to that very unmetallic thump. Would you like to see why?"
Disconcerted at discovering such an amiable attitude in response to his criticism, Ray's only response is "Huh?"
"If you'll just step over here, you can see for yourself," the dealer tosses over his shoulder. Puzzled, but curious, Ray and Diane join him where he is holding what looks like a door from a life-size model car. "How's your karate(? You're welcome to kick, punch, and even jump on it if you like, just give me a minute to get out of the way," he grins, clearly enjoying this part of his job.
Ray is already advancing toward the panel, but Diane hesitates, "What is it?"
"The exact same thing that you just heard on the coupe, without the paint of course. It's a composite, and sometimes commonly referred to as plastic, though when most people think of plastics, they usually think of Tupperware, not an exterior panel on a car. Go ahead, give it your best shot."
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...ile SMC for automotive body panels (Pub. No. 1-RC-18145) Toledo, Ohio: Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation.
7. Gabriele, Michael C. "At Ford, Green Light for SMC, Red for IM Body Panels". Plastics Technology. pp. 70-71, April, 1993.
8. Owens- Corning. "Design flexibility," (1996). [Online] Available: http://shango. proxicom.com:80/owens/composites/solutions/flexibility.html
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