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Reducing weight whilst maintaining stiffness and strength?


I have a project in which I can choose any part of the car and discuss how it can be replaced or modified..... in order to reduce its weight while maintaining its stiffness and strength. I'm not sure which part of the car to discuss maybe body panels? I'm not to sure any ideas?

Asim K.
- London, Middlesex, UK

Unfortunately you didn't mention whether you're in 5th grade, or a senior in an engineering college, or somewhere in between. And if we talk to a 5th grader in engineering terms you'll be clueless; if we talk down to an engineer as a 5th grader you'll be insulted. But in either case you can make those body panels out of a heavier gauge of aluminum and they'll be stiffer and lighter. That's not to say it's practical, just lighter and stiffer.

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey


Let's assume you have a solid bar of some material. If, if you used the same weight of that bar but made it hollow, the stiffness would increase quite a bit.

Example ... take an ordinary little rectangular cardboard matchbox. If it were flat or round (the same weight principle applies) it would be far less stiffer than the rectangular shape it possesses. Try this out yourself!

As for aluminum, what Ted says is right. Which is why the latest XK series 2004 Jaguars are much lighter than their predecessors yet stiffer and even a spot larger, too!

freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton [deceased]
(It is our sad duty to advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).


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