During a vehicle crash stress waves can be generated at the impact point and propagate through the vehicle structure. The generation of these waves is dependent, in general, on the crash type and, in particular, on the impact contact characteristics. This has consequences with respect to different crash barrier interfaces for vehicle evaluation. The two barriers most commonly used to evaluate the response of a vehicle in a frontal impact are the rigid barrier and the offset deformable barrier. They constitute different crash modes, full frontal and offset. Consequently it would be expected that there are different deformation patterns between the two. However, an additional possible contributor to the difference is that an impact into a rigid barrier generates waves of significantly greater stress than impacts with the deformable one. If stress waves are a significant component of real world final deformation patterns then, the choice of barrier interface and its effective stiffness is critical. To evaluate this conjecture, models of two types of rails each undergoing two different types of impacts, are analyzed using an explicit dynamic finite element code. Results show that the energy perturbation along the rail depends on the barrier type and that the early phase of wave propagation has very little effect on the final deformation pattern. This implies that in the real world conditions, the stress wave propagation along the rail has very little effect on the final deformed shape of the rail.

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