Types of frame Ladder frame Tubular space frame Monocoque frame Back bone frame
Functions of frame To carry the weight of the vehicle and its passengers To withstand the engine and transmission torque To withstand the centrifugal force while cornering. To withstand the bending stresses and twisting due to the rise and fall of the front and rear axles. It also maintains constant distance between all the parts of the vehicle body and components.
Requirement of frame It should carry all the parts of the vehicle. It should resist high impact load during collision. It should withstand bending stress and twisting due to high speed over rough road. It should resist centrifugal force while cornering. It should withstand the engine and transmission system torque
Frame Construction C-shape The C-rail has been used on nearly every type of vehicle at one time or another. It's made by taking a flat piece of steel (usually ranging in thickness from 1/8" to 3/16") and rolling both sides over to form a c-shaped beam running the length of the vehicle. Boxed frames were made by welding two matching crails together to form a rectangular tube. Modern techniques, however, use a process similar to making c-rails in that a piece of steel is bent into four sides and then welded where both ends meet. Hat frames resemble a "U" and may be either right-sideup or inverted with the open area facing down.
This is the earliest kind of chassis. nearly all cars in the world used it as standard. Even in today, most SUVs still employ it. Its construction, indicated by its name, looks like a ladder Two longitudinal rails interconnected by several lateral and cross braces. The longitude members are the main stress member. They deal with the load and also the longitudinal forces caused by acceleration and braking. The lateral and cross members provide resistance to lateral forces and further increase torsional rigidity.
Advantage: It is easy and cheap for hand build. Disadvantage: Since it is a 2 dimensional structure, torsional rigidity is very much lower than other chassis, especially when dealing with vertical load or bumps. Who use it ? Most SUVs, classic cars, Ford Crown Victoria etc.
Tubular Space Frame
Tubular space frame chassis employs dozens of circular-section tubes position in different directions to provide mechanical strength against forces from anywhere. These tubes are welded together and forms a very complex structure. For higher strength required by high performance sports cars, tubular space frame chassis usually incorporate a strong structure In the early 50 s, Mercedes-Benz created a racing car 300 SLR using tubular space frame.
Advantage: Very strong in any direction. (compare with ladder chassis and monocoque chassis of the same weight) Disadvantage: Very complex, costly and time consuming to be built. Impossible for robotised production. Besides, it engages a lot of space, raise the door sill and result in difficult access to the cabin. Who use it ? All Ferrari , Lamborghini Diablo, Jaguar XJ 220, etc.
Monocoque is a one-piece structure which defines the overall shape of the car. While ladder, tubular space frame and backbone chassis provides only the stress members and need to build the body around them, monoque chassis is already incorporated with the body in a single piece, as you can see in the above picture showing a Volvo V 70. In fact, the "one-piece" chassis is actually made by welding several pieces together. The floorpan, which is the largest piece, and other pieces are press-made by big stamping machines. They are spot welded together by robot arms (some even use laser welding) in a stream production line. The whole process just takes minutes. After that, some accessories like doors, bonnet, boot lid, side panels and roof are added. Monocoque chassis also benefit crash protection. Because it uses a lot of metal, crumple zone can be built into the structure. Another advantage is space efficiency. The whole structure is actually an outer shell, Although monocoque is suitable for mass production by robots, it is nearly impossible for small-scale production. The setup cost for the tooling is too expensive - big stamping machines and expensive mouldings.
Advantage: Cheap for mass production. Inherently good crash protection. Space efficient. Disadvantage: Impossible for small-volume production. Who use it ? Nearly all mass production cars, all current Porsche.
Backbone chassis is very simple: a strong tubular backbone (usually in rectangular section)connects the front and rear axle and provides nearly all the mechanical strength. Inside which there is space for the drive shaft in case of front-engine but it has most commonly used in rear engine type chassis. The whole drive train, engine and suspensions are connected to both ends of the backbone. The body is built on the backbone, usually made of glass-fibre. It's strong enough for smaller sports cars but not up to the job for high-end ones.
Advantage: -Strong enough for smaller sports cars. -Easy to be made by hand thus cheap for low volume production. -Simple structure benefit cost. -The most space-saving other than monocoque chassis. Disadvantage: -Not strong enough for high-end sports cars. -The backbone does not provide protection against side impact or off-set crash. -Cost ineffective for mass production. Who use it ? Lotus Esprit, Elan Mk II, TVR, Marcos.