Nowadays, lightweight design is inevitable when it comes to the development of general vehicle structures. Driving performance can be increased and fuel consumption can be reduced due to improved energy efficiency. Especially, in the field of electric mobility, weight reduction plays a key role as the high weight of the energy storage units needs to be compensated to extend the driving range.

Within the framework of his master thesis, Jan Liskien developed a lightweight design automotive side bumper in cooperation with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) – Institute of Vehicle Concepts – Lightweight & hybrid design Methods and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Concepts with a high lightweight design potential were developed by screening of marine plankton organisms. Hence, specific biological archetypes with sophisticated crash behaviors were chosen for the concept development. The five most efficient concepts were determined by performing explicit crash simulations and comparing their energy absorption capacity.

The best performing concept for the internal structure of the side bumper provides the basis for the next stage of development. For the final design a designated composite material (CRP) regarding to specific requirements was used.

The result of the study is an automotive side bumper made out of a thermoplastic matrix reinforced with carbon fibers and a bionic design of the internal structure in form of adaptive, load optimized honey combs. Despite an overall low weight and the critical pole impact, the occupant protection remains unchanged due to the high energy absorption capacity of the bionic concept.