Development of plastic front side panels for green cars
Lightweight design with thermoplastics is a robust approach in order to reduce the CO2 emission and fuel consumption. This paper reviews the role of plastics in the green concept of automobile and develops the design process for replacing steel front side panels, so called steel car fender, with plastic ones. Conceptual design, material selection, and design strategy in terms of strength, moldability, and assembility were proposed. Injection molding optimization was carried out in order to ensure the quality of the plastic fender under a certain manufacturing conditions such as the applied molding machine and auxiliary equipment. Prototype manufacturing was also implemented to verify the manufacturability and the feasibility of the development process of a plastic car fender. The weight of the plastic car fender is 1.15 kg, reducing 41% compared to the steel fender. Although the production cost of the plastic fender is just slightly cheaper than that of steel one due to the high cost of the special plastic, the benefits such as lightweight, recyclability, manufacturability and design flexibility are the potential and practical application of the thermoplastic to the green automotive industry for making exterior parts.