The importance of the collaboration between designers and engineers is shown in the development of a door system for the Ford European market B-MAX compact car.
Called the “Easy Access Door System,” it provides a 1.5-m rear door opening without the obstruction of a B-pillar.
Says Stefan Lamm, exterior design director, Ford of Europe, “Door systems like this have been a designer’s dream for many years. We have taken the concept from an idea on a designer’s sketch pad to a stylish and versatile product on the showroom floor.”
Getting there involved more than 1,000 computer simulations over a three-year period. Each simulation took 24 hours to run. There were 50 physical side impact tests involved, as well.
“We engineered the body to keep all the benefits of the new door concept, while making the structure strong, stiff and light,” said Darren Palmer, Product Development Quality director, Ford of Europe.
To achieve this they used ultra-high-strength steels in the doors and body to create the structure that is strong and stiff enough to be safe and functional.
Undoubtedly without the computer simulations and the availability of these strong, light steels, the door concept would have remained on the designer’s sketch pad.