The present crash energy management design work is comprised of two parts. Part I, this current paper, discusses the CAE analysis and testing results of extruded aluminum components for a front end structure of a space frame vehicle. The components consist of front and back-up rails with various rail reinforcement and triggering mechanisms. Rail and reinforcement members are manufactured using aluminum alloys extruded through a closed hat and aluminum sheet shaped in an open hat cross-section respectively. Aluminum alloys series 5xxx and 6xxx were used with the reinforcement while only 6xxx series extruded aluminum alloy was used with the front and back-up main rails. Triggering was applied to reinforcements in various configurations. Further details on the reinforcement and triggering are discussed throughout the paper. CAE models for the front end components were built and analysis was performed to determine the mean crush load, energy absorbing capability, mode of collapse, and folding pattern of each component. Component testing was conducted to verify the CAE prediction and to provide additional comparative design data as to the stability, mode of collapse, number of folds, folding pattern, stack-up, etc.
Part II, a second paper to be published at a later date, reviews briefly the components testing results and presents a detailed discussion of the CAE modeling and models results for the full front end of the extruded aluminum space frame structure.