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MATERIALS FOR THE FUTURE? HYBRID VEHICLE DOORS MAY SAVE FUEL AND REDUCE WEIGHT

 DETROIT, Feb. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- With the threat of higher CAFE fuel requirements and the demand for increased vehicle safety, auto designers may be facing an increasingly complex problem in selecting a material for future vehicles.
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 The Budd Company, which produces several million car and truck doors each year, believes no one material will dominate the auto industry. In a recent pilot program a hybrid door system of Sheet Molding Composite (SMC) and steel appears to have the strength requirements of steel and dent resistance of plastics. SMC is a material composed of fiberglass, limestone and resin.
 The company's technical center in Auburn Hills, Mich., identified 147 possible combinations of materials, including steel, fiberglass composites and aluminum, and methods of joining these materials, which range from traditional welding to modern bonding techniques, for producing a door system, said William C. Phillips, director of the technical center.
 The Budd Company recently produced five hybrid versions of an experimental vehicle door, using various designs, combinations of materials and joining techniques. The results of the experiment were that as much as 15 pounds of vehicle weight per door can be reduced using various design combinations, ranging from the traditional all- steel door design to an all-aluminum door. One of the doors has an outer panel made of Budd's Hi-Flex(R) SMC and a two-piece laser-welded tailored steel inner panel.
 According to Phillips, the ideal material or materials as well as the joining method used depend on the kind of vehicle and the volume to be produced, the frequency of design changes planned, targets for weight, safety requirements and cost factors. According to a recent study, each pound of vehicle weight saved reduces gasoline consumption by one gallon over a 100,000-mile distance.
 The ultimate goal is to satisfy the car-buying customer, he added. Consumer focus groups indicate dents are a major concern to car owners. A dent means money, time and inconvenience for repairs. Materials such as dent-resistant SMC, such as Budd-developed Hi-Flex, curtails dents, Phillips noted. Automakers and consumers want a strong door that provides a safe compartment for the driver and passengers.
 Headquartered in Troy, Mich., The Budd Company supplies the automotive industry with a wide range of products including steel stampings and assemblies from plants in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Shelbyville, Ky., as well as full frames and chassis frame components from Kitchener, Ontario. The company produces SMC autobody panels in Carey and North Baltimore, Ohio, and Kendallville, Ind.
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 /NOTE: A photo illustration of The Budd Company's new hybrid door is available without charge on your photo receiver. Have photo editor dial in to 212-967-1293, 212-643-2005 or 212-643-2006, and ask for PRN0210DE1D. For those without a photo receiver, the photo illustration is available through CONTACT: Paul Sichert Jr. of The Budd Company, 313-643-3520/


CO: The Budd Company ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU: PDT

KE-DH -- DE015 -- 5190 02/10/93 13:02 EST
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Date:Feb 10, 1993
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