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GMT Composite Pedestrian Beam Wins Safety Award

06 January 2006

At its 35th-annual Innovation Awards Gala, the Automotive Division of the SPE awarded a GMT pedestrian beam with first-place for the Most Innovative Use of Plastics in the group’s new Safety Category.

Featured on vehicles from Volkswagen, the beam helps improve the safety of pedestrians, considered in the European Union to be the most threatened road users. The award was accepted by representatives from the OEM, Volkswagen, Tier One supplier and moulder, AKsys GmbH, and materials supplier, Quadrant Plastic Composites AG.

Enhanced pedestrian protection is a high priority in the European Union (EU), where pedestrian deaths account for 20% of all road casualties and about 290,000 injuries per year. Children under the age of 12 incur the highest number of these deaths and serious injuries. To help reduce fatalities and serious injuries among the most vulnerable road users, the automotive industry in Europe has voluntarily adopted a set of proactive requirements to add pedestrian protection to the front of their vehicles. The pedestrian protection beam is conceived as one way of reducing lower leg and knee trauma during first contact with the vehicle’s front end.

As would be expected, different OEMs and their suppliers are approaching this voluntary obligation by designing pedestrian protection beams in different ways in order to fit existing vehicle designs without adversely affecting vehicle balance and weight. In the case of Volkswagen and AKsys, a number of profile designs and material combinations were evaluated. The goal of each combination was to add stiffness by mounting an extra carrier below the existing bumper beam and reducing weight and costs of existing metal solutions. The team finally settled on GMTex textile-reinforced glass-mat thermoplastic (GMT) composite from Quadrant Plastic Composites.

Volkswagen has already adopted the GMT composite pedestrian beam on many of its models, including the Bora (100,000 annual build), Golf GTI (46,000 annual build) and Golf Plus (220,000 annual build). The Mercedes S-Class from DaimlerChrysler (70,000 annual build) also uses a GMT pedestrian beam, combined with an engine shield.

This is the first year that SPE has had a Safety category in its Innovation Awards competition.

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