Japanese company develops a new automotive door concept
The automotive industry demands robust and lighter door panels from manufacturers to incorporate them in their vehicles. This has propelled several research organizations to test door concepts build from composite materials. Japan-based Teijin Limited has been a pioneer in coming up with high-performance fibers. Recently, the company’s automotive composites specialty groups have developed a multi-material composite automotive door concept.
The door concept has the ability to retain crash specifications despite being 35% lighter in weight than a conventional steel door. The materials used to develop the door are carbon fiber sheet molded compound, glass fiber sheet molded compound, and unidirectional glass fiber reinforced plastics. In unison, these materials offer both high strength and low weight. Additionally, the automotive door includes cost efficiency equal to that of an aluminum door module, along with the ability to achieve deep draws and superior design freedom not achievable with a metal. The solution also withstands the heat level of the conventional E-coat automotive painting process.
The adoption of tough, lightweight, and eco-friendly modules have increased in recent years, especially in Europe. These modules are being used to build automotive components such as resin-based tailgates, bonnets (hoods) and roofs. They help reduce CO2 emissions and increases the range of electric vehicles. Although some automakers have realized the advantages of multi-material side-door modules for high-volume vehicles, developing them still poses numerous challenges for designers. These components must meet demanding requirements for shock absorption to protect passengers in crashes, fatigue resistance to withstand the stresses of repeated opening and closing and accommodate interior harnesses for electrical wiring and signal components.
Teijin Composites Innovation Center (TCIC) and Continental Structural Plastics Holdings Corporation (CSP) developed a prototype of this unique automotive door using the concept, which was displayed in March 2019 at the Teijin Group booth, JEC World 2019 in Paris. Teijin plans to continue enhancing the quality of its side-door module capabilities, by applying various high-performance materials and technologies available within the Teijin Group. Leveraging its strengths in composite technologies, the goal is to launch a commercial door module by 2025 and become known as a global supplier of multi-material automotive components, targeting sales worth approximately $2 billion by 2030.
The push towards the development of new composite materials that enhance the capabilities of automotive door panels has driven the growth of the market, along with a rise in the number of vehicles owned globally. Market growth is also supplemented by the increase in the prevalence of road accidents and the increase in demand for feature enabled door panels. According to a report by Allied Market Research, the market is poised to reach $34.16 billion by 2025.
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