Independent market research indicates a nearly perfect correlation between overall customer satisfaction with a car, and perceived noise level of the car (inside the car), indicating the importance of noise abatement to OEM’s in their quest for higher customer satisfaction. To this end, Material Sciences Corporation (MSC) has developed “Quiet Steel”® as the first acoustically engineered steel laminate able to be used in unibody structural panels. The product consists of a .001”viscoelastic layer bonded between two layers of cold rolled steel, all of which are laminated together.
The manufacturing process has required numerous innovations to galvanize and laminate steel this way, economically, in coil form, in one continuous, high speed process. The viscoelastic layer is custom compounded by MSC from five families of materials. This has in practice meant the ability to dampen steel in the target sound frequencies for a specific vehicle platform. It has also allowed Quiet Steel to withstand paint ovens, deep draw stamping, and various kinds of welding operations
The product was adopted by an automaker, without modification to stamping, welding, or paint equipment. It allows a noise reduction system to be incorporated into the vehicle build in the body-in-white phase, which has advantages for vehicle design flexibility. The elimination of add-on noise treatments also reduces manufacturing complexity and a variety of complex fitting issues in vehicle assembly. By reducing or eliminating other noise abatement treatments, Quiet Steel significantly reduces costs and mass in the vehicle, while providing superior results, built in.
The Cadillac CTS vehicle is the first production platform for Quiet Steel, and was launched this year utilizing Quiet Steel in the dash panel. The effectiveness of the product is a very significant 5db reduction in cabin noise, important for a luxury vehicle, with potential of greater reduction for lower cost vehicles that have fewer traditional noise abatement treatments. Several other vehicle applications and platforms are now in development for future production.