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STEEL'S PROVEN CRASHWORTHINESS SURPASSES OTHER AUTOMOTIVE MATERIALS

 DETROIT, March 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Through design technology, steel has a proven crashworthiness that safeguards an automobile's passengers and cargo beyond any other automotive material, according to Dr. Sam Errera, who addressed the media today at a briefing sponsored by American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).
 "Steel has the toughness required to absorb energy through its strength and ductility, or ability to undergo large deformations without fracture," Dr. Errera said in a presentation to media on opening day of the 1993 SAE International Congress & Exposition at Cobo Center.
 Dr. Errera, a former consulting engineer with Bethlehem Steel Corporation and now a consultant with AISI, spoke on an issue of growing importance with automotive consumers: How protected am I in an accident? The answer lies in crash energy management, an expanding technology that deals with the crash behavior of automotive materials and vehicles.
 Dr. Errera based his comments on the content of a new crash energy study, "Automobile Structural Crashworthiness," to be published this spring by AISI. The report, prepared by Diversified Computer Engineering, covers:
 -- Safety requirements, including federal motor safety regulations;
 -- Structural considerations in crash energy management, including front and rear collisions, side impact and rollover;
 -- Design of vehicle structures for crash energy management; and
 -- Material properties data.
 A vast amount of analytical and empirical data on steel products has been developed to predict the crash performance of steel components. Dr. Errera said the total crash energy management capabilities of steel surpasses that of competing materials because of steel's ductility and strength, particularly under impact loads.
 Design research has shown that outside the passenger's safety cell, the automobile's front and rear steel panels are designed with built-in crush or "crumple" zones. On impact, they collapse in controlled accordion folds in order to gradually absorb impact energy into the whole structure.
 Two basic modes of energy absorption are encountered in thin wall sheet metal beam type structures commonly found in automobiles: axial collapse and bending. Since pure axial collapse can be achieved in the energy absorbing structures only during direct front or rear, or slightly off-angle impacts (5-10 degrees), most of the structural members of a vehicle will be subject to mixed modes comprised of axial collapse, bending and perhaps torsion, Dr. Errera said.
 Because structural elements or subsystems of a vehicle involved in a crash undergo large plastic deformations, particularly the elements designed to serve as energy absorbers, ductility becomes a very important materials property. In certain types of mechanisms, quite common in vehicle structures undergoing structural collapse, reversals of plastic deformation occur. Thus, the ability of the material to accommodate these large deformation reversals is required. Steel, the principal material now used in automotive body structures, has that ability, Dr. Errera said.
 "Other products will have to demonstrate that they are competitive with steel in their ability to produce adequate crashworthy structures," said Dr. Errera.
 At the same time, he added, the steel and auto industries must continue their research on the use of efficient designs using higher-strength steels to further reduce the weight of components while maintaining economical and effective crash energy management.
 Biomechanical research has indicated that the human body can tolerate a force of 200 times the force of gravity for brief intervals, and that if mechanical impact forces are properly controlled, victims of transportation accidents can survive what would otherwise be non- survivable accidents.
 Automobile crashworthiness is guided by four distinct factors, said Dr. Errera:
 1. Limiting to tolerable levels the impact forces that are applied to occupants;
 2. Providing means for managing the energy of collision while at the same time maintaining adequate survival cell for occupants;
 3. Containing the occupants within the vehicle survival cell during the collision, i.e., minimizing the likelihood of ejection; and
 4. Protecting the occupants from post-crash hazards, primarily fires.
 Dr. Errera said that reliable crashworthiness performance requires a design based on sound crash management principles, appropriate design technology and proven concepts, and materials that behave well under diverse loading conditions and survive without fractures during vehicle collisions.
 -0- 3/1/93
 /CONTACT: Jim O'Toole of PR Associates, 313-963-3396, for American Iron and Steel Institute/


CO: American Iron and Steel Institute ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU:

SM -- DE041 -- 1664 03/01/93 18:06 EST
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Date:Mar 1, 1993
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