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New book illuminates complexity of auto body design

The market demands that new and fresh car designs be developed and brought into production quickly, requiring decision makers to have a firm command of the principles involved in structural design for real world performance.
Posted: February 28, 2011 - 2:15PM
Author: Don Bain

SAE International has published a 458-page book revealing what goes into automotive body structural design. Surprisingly, modeling allows engineers to draw conclusions complex computer modeling and analysis does not.

Fundamentals of Automobile Body Structure Design by Donald E. Malen goes on sale in March 2011 in hardcover print and ebook versions. The latter includes either complete ebook or individual chapter downloads, available in a variety of formats saved in an elibrary hosted by SAE International.

The body architecture of an automobile is important in that it serves many functions. First it must hold the parts of the vehicle together and contribute to passenger safety in a collision. It must also minimize noise and vibration, which varies greatly from economy to luxury vehicles. In helps determine an auto’s coefficient of drag, which impacts the vehicle’s fuel consumption. Finally, the design of the body is critical to the path establishing the program leadtime of the model.

The book provides readers with solid understanding of the principles of automobile body structure design, illuminating the effect of ever-changing elements of design on the behavior of automobile bodies.

Other concepts include:

• Improving performance.

• Shaping a structure to achieve a desired function.

• How structure behaves relative to performance.

• Why structures behave the way they do.

The book will be of interest to both graduate and undergraduate college students in automotive programs; entry-level engineers at OEMs who wish to specialize in auto body design; vehicle integration engineers needing to understand design in relations to body performance; engineers in the chassis, interior, and powertrain areas who need to know how their subsystems affect the body; test engineers and FEA analysts who need to develop the reasoning and context for tests or analyses; and any academic who needs to understand the practical aspects of body engineering.

About the author
Author Donald E. Malen is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he teaches graduate-level courses in automobile body structures and design for the manufacturing process. The course was developed in 1998 and has been taught every year since. His book is based on course notes evolving over a 10-year period and benefits from the input of students from GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, and their suppliers.

Formerly, Malen was an engineering executive at GM Corp, working in the areas of advanced body design and systems engineering. He holds several patents related to automobile body structures and vibration. He has a PhD in mechanical and industrial engineering from the University of Michigan, an MS in engineering mechanics from MIT, and a BSME from the GM Institute (Kettering University).