Livonia, Michigan – The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan is built on a new platform that delivers class-leading ride, versatility, and technology. An essential component of this next-generation vehicle is the front-end load beam assembly designed and manufactured by Vari-Form.
"Very tight packaging was one of the challenges we faced on this technically-advanced van," says Dean Gericke, Vari-Form director of engineering. "We used state-of-the-art hydroforming techniques, within the parameters of the FCA US LLC design, to develop the structural system connecting the door frame ring with the front rail. Our concept improves upon a part originally designed with stampings that occupied too much space. We substituted hydroform tubes into this space, delivering the section size needed."
Gericke notes that the use of advanced high strength steel, hydroformed into dual thin wall tubes, contributes to meeting packaging constraints.
"To produce a tube this thin required the tube manufacturer to upgrade its production. Then we used cold metal transfer welding to minimize potential distortion from heat," Gericke says.
Improving occupant protection is another advantage of the Vari-Form load beam structure. By creating an additional load path for impact forces, the Vari-Form design helps meet Insurance Institute for Highway Safety targets for narrow offset front protection.
"Our load beam assembly helps make the body structure of Pacifica the lightest and stiffest in its class," says Gericke. "That leads to enhanced agility when driving, outstanding ride characteristics for passengers, and reduced noise, vibration and harshness that will be appreciated on every ride."