Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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cheap disposable car exterior
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consider Throwing an egg at a wall. I would crumple alumin(i)um foil (from flat to an amplititude of 0.5 to 1 cm ) Wrap the egg in lightly layered foil (crumpled) Around 7 to 10 layers would do. Wrapped such that the total foil layer was around 5 cm thick. Throw the egg at the wall.

Now consider Scaling up the engineering of the egg experiment to protect car passengers with sacrificial and eminently replacable layers of crumple zones. This material may or may not resemble an up-scaling of the foil in the egg example above. I do not know which material it would be.

F1 cars barrel into crumple zones of tyres. A material does not need to be 21st Century Technology to achieve the function.

THE IDEA PART.Make car exteriors very cheap, detatchable, sacrificial elements. ( cars would cost @ 30% of their current retail value and major repairs would be reduced by a similar factor ) . Allowances for slowing conversion of velocity to crumple would be made. and specific design for engine, fuel tanks, wheels, cabin, etc would be required

It would amount to quite a large superstructure. And would therefore change our car aestheic expectations.........no small change For urban transport up to 50 - 70 km/h, maximum speed around 110 km/h

peter2, Apr 28 2003


       GM Saturn? Polymer body panels atop a steel space frame.
bristolz, Apr 28 2003

       This is pretty much the way car front and rear ends are designed, except for the detachable part. I was actually in a head-on accident where the front of the car did its job exceptionally well. The car looked like the driver must certainly have been killed, whereas in fact, I walked away with only some minor scratches and bruises... and of course the mental problems.
beauxeault, Apr 28 2003

       Like lingering overspelling of proper nouns?
bristolz, Apr 28 2003

       what [beauxeault] said.

then what [bristolz] said.
ato_de, Apr 28 2003

       What [jutta] said.
k_sra, Apr 28 2003

       What [k_sra]...forget it.
goober, Apr 28 2003

       Who [] said what?
dijontoothpaste, Apr 28 2003

       This sounds like it would be more expensive to manufacture than styrofoam or paper or whatever they're using now.
snarfyguy, Apr 28 2003

       ? I think you're posting to the wrong idea [snarfy].
bristolz, Apr 28 2003

       what? 1000 feet from the ground is nothing!
po, Apr 28 2003

       No [bristolz], just commenting on shoddy Detroit manufacturing practices. Fiberglass is / was a common body part material (cheap but very unsafe in an accident), so I was just exaggerating.
snarfyguy, Apr 28 2003

       As an automotive engineer, finding ways to make parts cheaper was part and parcel to what I did, which I had mixed feelings about, since every dime cut came out of someone's income somewhere.
RayfordSteele, Apr 28 2003

       You all need to calm down. This is a fine idea. The crumple plates could be sold in 4 inch squares in varying colors - either to match the car or just to be colorful. They would have a peel off backing and could be applied over areas which your teenager was likely to scrape when doing a slipshod parking job. After being scraped, the square could be discarded.   

       This version is to protect against those annoying, expensive, insurance rate-raising scrapes, not the full on crashes. I think that the giant aluminum crash protector as the author proposed might be a little off putting for other drivers. It would be kind of like seeing someone driving a turbocharged bumper car down the interstate at 100 mph. You would wonder: "What are his intentions?"   

       I would also like to note that the gas tank should be filled with olive oil and garlic before trying the potatoes maneuver proposed above.
bungston, Apr 28 2003

       bungston , your version is fine   

       What i had envisaged would handle higher speed bingles. Aluminium in the egg experiment would possibly scale up to a different material, but one with proportionately equivalent structural dynamics.   

       yumm baked spuds..... mmmm olive oil and garlic yumm   

       From rayford_steele above>>> //As an automotive engineer............. I had mixed feelings about,.............. since every dime cut came out of someone's income somewhere.// rayfordSteele mmm . dilema acknowledged...... An industrial shift in auto production....perhaps also some positives. How people feel about their cars would also (need to) change. Pride in a hugely expnsive megametalLith* in the driveway would need to be converted into a different form of devotion/investment/endeavor. Golly.... [* Help me to say this better ]
peter2, Apr 28 2003

       Sorry, maybe I'm missing something. Is the idea to have the skin be able to completely absorb the energy of an impact? If so, then I'm not sure how this idea would cause that to happen. Sacrificial elements or not, if you absorb all of the energy in a short enough time to prevent damage to anything inboard of the outer skin, won't that still be a mighty abrupt stop?   

       If not designed to protect the structure of the vehicle, what's the point? A highly expensive part of the car will still be destroyed e.g. front clip. Many existing cars (60% of mine anyway) are designed to crumple and thereby absorb energy over a relatively long period of time and distance which helps protect the occupants from deceleration trauma.   

       Would these new crumple zones extend a meter or so beyond the structural members and passenger cabin of the vehicle? The egg-zample takes an egg with about, what, 4 cm in diameter, and 6 cm in length and adds 5 cm all the way around, practically tripling the "width" and length of the "car".   

       Could just be that the yolk's on me.
half, Apr 28 2003

       no your on the right track haf { BTW i've added this clarification to the idea statement thanks for that question}   

       Allowances for slow conversion of velocity to crumple would be made. nm///// and specific design for engine, wheels cabin, etc would be required   

       It would amount to quite a large superstructure. And would therefore change our car aestheic expectations......no small change. It would be speed limited.
peter2, Apr 28 2003

       Replaceable honeycomb structures might work for this. They're very strong (used in F1 racers), and pre-made ones could be replaced very easily. I believe honeycombs deaden sound quite effectively, as well.
tekym, Apr 29 2003


       thanx, i had to admit (at the risk of being mfd) that i dont know what material is suitable   

       do you know how costly they are?
peter2, Apr 30 2003

       You can't eat Honeycombs unless you're a member of the Honeycomb Hideout!
Used tires could be put to better use than landfills. Why not vulcanize or klingonize the rubber for use on exteriors?
thumbwax, Apr 30 2003

       well , not being a trekky, I was well into google loading up its search results for "klingonize" before I realized what klingonize might mean.....http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Lair/9261/klin4.html...........but i won't (myself) append it as a link.........
peter2, Apr 30 2003

       yes quite a large extra zone is required
peter2, Dec 26 2009

       mmmmm,, honeycomb,,,
peter2, Apr 06 2010


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