Research project: Plexiglas car windows

TECOSIM has just launched its SimPlex research project in cooperation with university and industrial partners. This two-year project aims to enhance a new simulation method to calculate crash behaviour in Plexiglas vehicle glazing. TECOSIM sees great potential in the material. The development partner and specialist in computer-aided engineering has already explored potential uses for the material in a preliminary study, which also examined different crash scenarios. The material promises to reduce weight by up to 50 percent compared directly with conventional car window glazing. What's more, it will also improve acoustics and breaking strength significantly.

Beispiel eines CAE-Simulationsmodells: Die Plexiglas-Seitenscheibe des Gesamtfahrzeugmodells wird mit einem Kopfimpaktor belastet. Für die verschiedenen Crashsimulationen nutzt TECOSIM vorhandene Simulationsdaten aus dem eigenentwickelten Reverse Engine

Example of a CAE simulation model: The Plexiglas side window of the complete vehicle model is loaded with a head impactor. For the various crash simulations, TECOSIM uses existing simulation data from the proprietary reverse engineering process TEC|BENCH.




The demand for new lightweight design solutions continues unabated in the automotive industry. Measures to reduce weight further are being investigated on a continuous basis, particularly as transport moves towards electrification. Glazing accounts for up to five per cent of overall vehicle weight, so transparent thermoplastic windows offer great potential. The study is not making a mere direct comparison of mass, however; overall weight will be reduced at a uniform high position, such as in side windows or sunroofs. This allows the vehicle's centre of gravity to be lowered to ensure improved driving dynamics. Plexiglas glazing provides better protection against impact from stones than mineral glass windows thanks to its greater breaking strength. It also delivers improved acoustics due to its insulation properties, thus increasing travel comfort.

CAE validation study successfully mapped crash scenarios

TECOSIM conducted a preliminary study researching the possible use of Plexiglas in vehicle windows in cooperation with the Institute for Mechanics and Materials Research (IMM) at the Mittelhessen University of Applied Sciences (THM). The engineering partner used a vehicle side window as an example to successfully map different scenarios using numerical calculation and simulation in a CAE validation project for client Evonik.

SimPlex – Simulation method for crash behaviour in Plexiglas

The newly launched SimPlex research project will build on the conclusions from the previous study and aims to apply the findings to a practice-based crash simulation tool. This tool will help to produce a virtual prototype, which TECOSIM can then use to map different crash scenarios in a simulation and produce a reliable projection. The simulation will provide proof of aptitude for use, allowing manufacturers to include Plexiglas in mass-produced cars at some time in the future.

When Plexiglas is used in vehicles, one important factor to consider is how the material will behave in response to accidents

The behaviour of Plexiglas, polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), will be studied during the first stage of the project to ensure that the pre-conditions for developing the simulation model are met. The Institute for Mechanics and Materials Research at the University of Giessen and the Institute for Structural Mechanics and Design at TU Darmstadt are responsible for this initial part of the project. Both research institutes will analyse material and fracture behaviour in an initial step. The findings will then be incorporated into a material card, thus allowing a crash simulation to be mapped at a later stage.

TECOSIM simulation data maps crash capability

TECOSIM is defining the requirements for crash capability, incorporating it into the creation of the prototype. To do so, the company is using the existing simulation data from its self-developed reverse engineering process TEC|BENCH. Vehicles freely available on the market are scanned and the geometry data prepared in CAE models for crash simulation.

TECOSIM uses these data models to perform crash simulation for different load cases, such as those on the front, rear or side section or the complete vehicle. TECOSIM is also carrying out specific structural tests. A head impactor will be fired at Plexiglas panels in an initial step with the findings used to simulate different crash scenarios in a second step. The real-life tests will then be finally validated by adjusting the individual material parameters. A simulation model with Plexiglas glazing will be successfully produced for the complete vehicle at the end of the project.