This research study highlights the testing method and relevant results for assessing impact performance of a carbon fiber composite front bumper crush can (FBCC) assembly subjected to full frontal crash loading. It becomes extremely important to study the behavior of lightweight composite components under a crash scenario in order to apply them to automotive structures to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle. Computer-aided engineering (CAE) models are extremely important tools to virtually validate the physical testing by assessing the performances of these structures. Due to lack of available studies on carbon fiber composite FBCCs assemblies under the frontal crash scenario, a new component-level test approach would provide assistance to CAE models and better correlation between results can be made. In this study, all the tests were performed by utilizing a sled-on-sled testing method. An extreme care was taken to ensure that there is no bottoming-out force for this type of test while adjusting the impact speed of sled. Full frontal tests on FBCC structures were conducted by utilizing five high-speed cameras (HSCs), several accelerometers and a load wall.

Excellent correlation was achieved between video tracking and accelerometers results for time histories of displacement and velocity. The standard deviation and coefficient of variance for the energy absorbed were very low suggesting the repeatability of the full frontal tests. The impact histories of FBCC specimens were consistent and in excellent agreement with respect to each other. Post-impact photographs showed the consistent crushing of composite crush cans and breakage of the bumper beam from middle due to the production of tensile stresses stretched caused by straightening of the bumper curvature after hitting the load wall.

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