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STEEL

 
How is it possible that the thin bodywork tubes that are used in today´s vehicles are able to protect their occupants in the event of an accident? A properly massive beam would seem to make sense, but all these bent metal parts…?

The structural design of modern cars, including, of course, ŠKODA, is dominated by ultra-high-strength steels these days. They are as much as six times stronger than ordinary low-strength steels and four times better than high strength steels. As a result, cca 50-70 kg of steel can be saved in the manufacturing process on each body, although the overall-strength and, primarily, car occupant safety requirements keep growing. And reducing the weight, fuel consumption and therefore also CO2 levels is also one of today´s biggest topics.

And how are PHS parts produced? Besides other ingredients, the steel mix also includes boron (that is why this material is sometimes referred to as boron steel). Before being pressed, the cuttings are heated to 920 °C in special furnaces. The steel, almost as formative as rubber, is put into the press; the tools are cooled down and the pressed part is cooled down to near room temperature within seconds, thus reaching high strength. Holes and cut-offs are made using a laser device, because cutting steel this strong is hardly possible.

Examine the steel using a microscope. You can go right inside using the slider!

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EXPERT

PETR ŠIMON
Head of EKR – Body and Assembled Parts Development

 

“WE HAVE A LONG-STANDING TRADITION OF USING (ULTRA)HIGH-STRENGTH MATERIALS. WE FOLLOW THE LATEST TRENDS IN TECHNOLOGIES, MATERIALS AND THEIR POTENTIAL USE. THANKS TO AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGIES, THE FIRST VEHICLE TO HAVE FEATURED REALLY MODERN MATERIALS WAS THE OCTAVIA II FOURTEEN YEARS AGO. WE HAVE BEEN CONTINUING THIS TREND THROUGH A NUMBER OF LATER PROJECTS, INCLUDING THE CURRENT BODIES”.

 

PLASTICS

 

The interiors of modern vehicles are packed with plastics, and various types of plastic are increasingly used also in the exterior, including the bodywork. Obviously, the requirements for exterior plastics differ from those for interior plastics where aesthetic aspects prevail over functionality and strength.

Typical examples of polymers used in ŠKODA vehicles include PP, PE, ABS, PA 6, PA 66, PC, PMMA, ASA and EPDM (abbreviations not really familiar to non-experts) and/or mixtures of these materials. Like most other products, these polymers or, if you like, plastics have undergone a dynamic development in recent years.

 

Plastics are one of the youngest structural-material groups. The beginnings of their industrial use date back to the post-Great War period, but the real boom started as late as the 1950s and has been getting stronger ever since. The reasons are obvious: besides reduced production costs and resistance to corrosion, the key benefits include weight reduction and easier shaping (in line with the intended design).

Whether vehicle interior or exterior plastics, the input material is almost always a perfectly prepared, purpose-developed mixture. Obviously, the polymer itself is the majority component, but the basis is combined with a number of additives whose role is to increase the quality of the final product – burning retarders, UV stabilisers, strength/resistance boosters, etc. Like with other materials, continuous improvements are made to make cars increasingly sophisticated and safer.

Examine the plastics using a microscope. You can go right inside using the slider!

If the window with the microscopic view is not visible, please try again with a higher-resolution display.


EXPERT

ROMAN STRÁNSKÝ
Material Development Coordinator

 

“WE USE MANY TYPES OF PLASTICS FOR VEHICLE INTERIORS AND EXTERIORS, AND WE ALSO HAVE MANY SELECTION CRITERIA IN PLACE AND MANY ASPECTS THAT WE CAREFULLY CONSIDER WITH EACH NEW MODEL. FOR EXAMPLE, THE THERMAL LOAD ON THE DASHBOARD IN REAL OPERATING CONDITIONS RANGES FROM TEMPERATURES WELL BELOW ZERO (BEYOND THE POLAR CIRCLE) TO TEMPERATURES OF OVER 110 °C (DESERT AREAS). THE PART HAS TO REMAIN COMPLETELY FUNCTIONAL, SAFE AND STABLE IN TERMS OF QUALITY EVEN IN SUCH EXTREME CONDITIONS. IN OTHER WORDS, SELECTING THE RIGHT MATERIAL IS OF PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE.”

 

GLASS

 

For many years now, glass has been used in cars for more purposes than just stopping the wind and preventing flies from hitting our eyes. Glazed parts and windscreens in particular are highly complex products these days. They block UV radiation, deflect thermal (infrared) radiation and defrost themselves in wintertime. With inserted acoustic foils in place, they also significantly reduce the interior noise levels.

To achieve the required properties, manufacturers use state-of-the-art technologies, e.g. a special silver-based metal layer that is just a few nanometres thick and invisible to the eye and is designed to block thermal solar radiation in order to keep the interior temperature levels acceptable even on hot days.

In wintertime customers will appreciate glass with a thin metal layer that, after switching the power on, defrosts itself completely within a few minutes, without obstructing the driver´s vision with thin wires used in first-generation heated windscreens.

Examine the glass using a microscope. You can go right inside using the slider!

If the window with the microscopic view is not visible, please try again with a higher-resolution display.


EXPERT

MILAN SLUKA
EKR-Body and Assembled Parts Development

 

“ŠKODA IS THE ONLY MANUFACTURER ABLE TO OFFER ITS CUSTOMERS AN ALL-GLASS ROOF - NEARLY 2 SQM OF GLASS SPANNING FROM THE WINDSCREEN TO THE TAILGATE, FROM SIDE TO SIDE, ALL IN ONE PIECE. THIS UNIQUE PART REQUIRES THE USE OF MANY TECHNOLOGICALLY SOPHISTICATED SOLUTIONS, E.G. GLASS SHAPING BY PRESSING TO ACHIEVE THE ACCURATE SHAPE AND APPROPRIATE OPTICAL PARAMETERS. FOR SAFETY REASONS, ŠKODA USES EXCLUSIVELY FIBREGLASS FOR ITS ALL-GLASS ROOFS, JUST LIKE FOR ITS WINDSCREENS.”

TEXTILE

 

The selection of suitable upholstery material is no doubt one of the important aspects when choosing a new car. The choice is really huge, and textile and leather are the key two types of material available – each of them comes with a number of pros and cons, and each of us prefers one of them for some reasons.

 

 

While in the past car seats used to be a minor topic, these days car manufacturers place a great emphasis not only on their structural design, but, even more importantly, also on the selected material. Customers can choose from a wide range of designs that can be tailored to meet their personal preferences and make a good match with the selected model.

Like the technology under the bonnet, textile upholsteries have gone through substantial changes and improvements over the last few years. Car manufacturers keep experimenting on both material and processing sides, carefully selecting, testing and checking all products for quality to guarantee long service life and high resistance. Customers require and appreciate strong and lightweight materials, trouble-free maintenance and comfort comparable with that offered by leather.

ŠKODA´s Color&Trim Department cooperates with many Czech and international manufacturers on developing modern upholstery materials. Each interior material concept is model-specific to make a good match with the car´s exterior, and the colours for all textile fabrics are selected with the overall colour context in mind to ensure that the interior makes a pleasant impression. This way you are guaranteed to find only top-quality materials inside ŠKODA cars.

One example for all - Alcantara is a special type of upholstery that boasts high resistance and a great look resembling suede or sanded leather, although it is a textile fabric made up of (minimum) 200 thousand criss-cross fibres per 1 cm2.

Examine the textile using a microscope. You can go right inside using the slider!

If the window with the microscopic view is not visible, please try again with a higher-resolution display.


EXPERT

KATEŘINA VRÁNOVÁ
Color&Trim Designer

 

“HIGH QUALITY AND COMPLIANCE WITH TECHNOLOGICAL REQUIREMENTS ARE SOME OF THE KEY FACTORS IN DECIDING WHETHER OR NOT THE PRE-SELECTED MATERIAL IS TO BE USED. WE TEST ALL FABRICS FOR QUALITY TO ENSURE THAT THEY MEET THE STRICT STANDARDS APPLICABLE ACROSS THE VW GROUP. NEVERTHELESS, THE DESIGN DEPARTMENT IS THE FIRST TEAM TO “TOUCH AND FEEL” EACH NEW FABRIC AND ASSESS ITS SUITABILITY. IF WE FIND IT ATTRACTIVE ENOUGH, WE FORWARD IT TO OTHER DEPARTMENTS FOR FURTHER TESTS AND ASSESSMENTS.”