How is an Impact Drop Tower used in Testing Automotive Parts

Why Impact Testing is Important to Automotive Manufacturing

With safety being a major priority in the automotive sector, it is vital that manufacturers have accurate information about how automotive components will perform under different conditions. Impact resistance is one of the most important properties for parts designers to consider, as well as the most difficult to quantify. Estimating the performance of a material directly benefits the production costs and improves the value of the final product.

FE analysis Automotive

How a Drop Tower can be used in Testing

When it comes to materials, impact tests are regulated by international standards including ISO 179, ISO 6603, ISO 8256, ASTM 3763, ISO 11343, and ASTM D7136, which define specimen characteristics as well as test configurations and parameters. These testing standards cover some of the emerging challenges and testing needs that are associated with high-performance polymers and composites.

Automotive OEMs often include in their testing requirements not only international standards but also their internal testing specifications.

impact car dashboard


As illustrated in the table below, impact testing often needs to be adapted to individual components.

Test Application Description Standards
Puncture test Involves a striker hitting a specimen with perpendicular force to determine the rupture characteristics of a material ISO 6603-2 and ASTM D3763
Tensile impact test Measures the force needed to break a specimen under a high speed tensile load and strain rate ISO 8256
Adhesives testing
wedge peel test
Measures dynamic resistance to cleavage [N/mm] by pushing a wedge between adherents ISO 11343
Compression after
impact (CAI)
A two step process that assesses Barely Visible Impact Damage (BVID) to composites. An impact test causes BVID to a specimen, which then undergoes a compression test using an electromechanical machine to measure its residual strength. ASTM D7136
Occupant safety test

Strikers with different shapes are used to simulate human body impact 

Internal test standards
Pedestrian safety test Bumper impacted at room temperature (safe testing environment) or with special thermostatic chamber.
Headlamps impacted at room temperature
Internal test standards
Vehicle active safety test Test performed at different temperatures to guarantee the functionality of brakes and shock absorbers/suspensions under varying environmental conditions Internal test standards
Vehicle passive safety test Test performed at different temperatures to investigate the performance of airbag’s cover Internal test standards

Instron's 9400 Series drop towers can be used to meet many different impact testing requirements and determine material properties at a multitude of working temperatures and conditions. This provides automotive OEM's with all the information they need in order to choose the right materials for the right parts of a vehicle, and develop the most reliable design “right the first time”.

As illustrated in the figure below, virtually every component of a modern vehicle normally has to undergo an impact test.

Vehicle testing parts

How to Solve the Challenges that come with Testing

The growing variety of materials and manufacturing methods used in automotive manufacturing is inevitably translating into more stringent testing requirements.

The need to carry out more frequent and thorough tests may lead to bottlenecks along the design and production line, which can ultimately hinder efficiency and productivity and extend the time to market. Generally, this is due to two main factors:

  • Lack of repeatability and accuracy in testing, resulting in errors that can cause problems further down the line leading to downtime or product recalls.
  • An inefficient testing process, leading to unnecessary downtime.

Ensuring a reliable, repeatable, and efficient testing process is therefore key.

Instron's 9400 Series drop tower and Bluehill Impact Software have been developed to deliver accurate results and reduce the chances of human error. This is achieved with:

  • A frictionless linear guidance system to minimize loss of energy and improve data reproducibility.
  • A high-resolution data acquisition chain in compliance with ISO 7500 to ensure the accuracy of the force measuring system.
  • A user-friendly approach with step-by-step instructions to guide users through the entire testing process, ensuring tests remain repeatable, simple, and error-free.

Furthermore, Instron's 9450 drop tower can be equipped with falling mass from 1 kg and can perform impact tests according to internal and industry standards up to 24 m/s. These are crucial capabilities to determine resistance and deformation over a wide range of materials and applications.

9450 impact drop tower family

Learn More about Instron's Automotive Solutions

Originally posted By Francesca Pinto On Nov 24, 2021 , Updated On June 15, 2021