Truck Lightweighting

Application
Heavy truck bodies were traditionally made of steel.  Weight reduction initiatives to reduce fuel consumption and increase load capacity have resulted in most heavy truck bodies movement to composite materials.

Environment
Corrosion from road salts and salty coastal air have also created incentive to move traditional steel body parts to composites, reducing body repair and replacement.

Fabrication
Many composite heavy truck hoods are molded in large presses that form malleable sheet molding compound into the truck body parts.  Sheet molding compound is a combination of glass fiber reinforcement, various fillers, and a resin binder which hardens around the filler and fibers during the high pressure and high temperature molding operation.

Advances in Composites
In 2008, Arotran™ resin binder system was introduced.  This binder offers a weight savings of 20% over traditional binders and further reduces weight.

Investigations into the use of carbon fibers and lower density fillers provide additional opportunities for weight reduction.

Why This Solution?
Continued transition from steel to composite truck hoods is expected to continue due to:

  • Weight reduction resulting in fuel savings or payload increase
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Dent and scratch resistance, which results in rust on steel hoods