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Fiberglass-based Composite Bodies Contribute to Lightweight, Tough, and Long-lasting Vehicles



BrandFXTM recently introduced its UltimateFXTM all-composite fiberglass-based service truck body and understructure combo which is manufactured to match the toughness of steel, while weighing about 60% less. The lightweight—yet tough—combo is designed for 56LS and 60LS service bodies. BrandFX used the latest advances in structural design and composite chemistry to develop the UltimateFX, which the company says affords maximum weather resistance and will not corrode or oxidate.

“There has never been an all-composite body plus understructure on the market before,” says Ben Rookey, marketing manager for BrandFX. “It’s the first of its kind.”

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The 56LS bodies are suited for applications such as plumbing, electrical, utility, telecommunications, HVAC, and more. The 60LS service bodies are suited for fleets with some of the same applications, such as plumbing, electrical, utility, telecommunications, and HVAC, as well as lawn and pest control.

“Currently, we offer the UltimateFX in 56-inch cab to axle (CA) for Ram, Chevrolet, GMC, and Ford single rear wheel applications,” Rookey says. “And, 60-inch cab to axle (CA) for Ram, Chevrolet, GMC, and Ford in dual rear wheel applications.”


Most truck manufacturers have long relied on the dependability of steel and aluminum for constructing fleet trucks, with fiberglass-based composite bodies not even a consideration. The assumption has been that such bodies wouldn’t provide nearly the needed toughness. Not so, according to BrandFX, which says composite bodies often outperform steel and aluminum truck bodies when compared head to head. The company says composite bodies combine a blend of high-strength performance with lightweight construction.

“Fleets are focusing, now more than ever, on lightweighting their service vehicles. Saving money on fuel, significantly less wear and tear on the chassis, suspension components, tires, brakes, etc. are all benefits from running a fleet at a lighter weight,” Rookey says. “Our 56-inch CA UltimateFX weighs only 496 lbs, a comparable steel body weighs between 1,100 lbs and 1,300 lbs, so our customers are getting about a 60% weight savings.”

Further, the company states that the composite material won’t bend, dent, or crack, even if exposed to extreme environmental conditions. Plus, BrandFX’s composite truck bodies are compatible with most aerial and crane applications.

Another misconception about composite bodies is that they are difficult to repair. Yet, according to BrandFX, in many cases, composite bodies are easier than steel or aluminum, as smaller areas of damage can be cut out, repaired, and replaced. Damage often can be fixed in a few steps using common tools such as a putty knife, industrial tape, utensil for mixing, straight edge for smoothing, orbital sander, and buffing wheel.

A hefty deterrent some fleet owners bend to is the belief that composite bodies are unaffordable. While they are more expensive upfront than steel and aluminum, composite bodies have an average lifespan of more than 20 years, and can be transferred from one chassis to another.


Another advantage, according to BrandFX, is reduced routine maintenance costs because the lightweight construction places less stress on shocks, brakes, and suspension components. Top that off with fuel savings because of the lightweight design—up to $1,600 per year on a truck driven 25,000 miles—and the initial investment can be offset over time.

“A lighter body also gives the option of downsizing the chassis required for having an increased payload available when it is required,” Rookey says.

Some of the country’s largest service companies are choosing advanced composite bodies for the above reasons, according to BrandFX.

“Because modernizing your fleet can be this simple,” Rookey says.


BrandFX is the world’s largest producer of advanced composite service bodies, line bodies, inserts, toppers, and covers. Find out more, visit

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The lighting in a commercial vehicle can certainly be viewed from a utilitarian perspective, and it’s true that without lighting a work truck can’t really work. The advent of more robust, brighter, and longer-lasting LED lamps has not only resulted in an overall displacement of incandescent lighting, it has allowed a new era in creative light styling to begin flourishing. As is often the case, trends in the automotive sector strongly influence commercial vehicle manufacturing in terms of safety, comfort, and styling. Because of LED lighting technology’s enhanced flexibility, lots of creative energy has been directed its way, resulting in lighting solutions that not only enhance a vehicle’s appearance, but define it. “We have definitely seen a shift in our lighting discussions with OEMs and fleets,” Brett Johnson, president and CEO of Optronics International, says. “Once primary topics of conversation, lamp longevity and durability are now virtually a given, but lamp styling and differentiation are on everyone’s mind.” GLOLIGHT BREAKTHROUGH The introduction of Optronics’ LED GloLight Series lamp in 2012 ushered in the first automotive-style stop, tail, and turn lamps for use on commercial vehicles. With their smoothly illuminated outer band encircling an LED array, the lamps were unique enough to be patented. With glowing outer rings and dark centers, the new lamps grabbed the attention of OEMs and fleets alike. Optronics was leveraging recent advancements in diode technology and using its innovative optic design engineering talent to achieve the diffused outer ring that gave the GloLight its signature look. “At that time, nobody had done much to change the utilitarian look and feel of LED stop, tail, turn lamps,” Marcus Hester, vice president of sales and marketing for Optronics International, says. “The GloLight stood out and changed the way vehicle lighting looked, and today it remains one of the most popular and sought-after products we sell.” LIGHT GUIDE’S INNOVATION Optronics recently unveiled several four-inch round and six-inch oval LED stop, tail, turn, and backup lamps. The lamps employ a newly engineered, patent-pending method of light delivery that looks and works unlike anything else in the vehicle-lighting marketplace. Light Guide technology allows LED light to be transmitted from one location in the lamp to another and enables the illumination of complex shapes and patterns. Like their LED GloLight lamps predecessors, lighting with Light Guide technology makes lamps shine brighter and display an attention-grabbing appearance. The technology also allows OEM design engineers to pursue unique lighting visions. The Light Guide technology allows symbols, text, and logos to all be potential design features. “Our Light Guide technology continues to change the game by disrupting preconceived notions about what commercial vehicle lighting has to look like,” Johnson says. TWO LAMPS IN ONE Until recently, vehicles have generally been fitted with separate six-inch oval or four-inch round stop, tail, turn lamps, and backup lamps. Each lamp required a mounting hole in the vehicle body panels, frame posts, docking plates or gussets. And, each resulting cavity reduced structural integrity and presented a path for moisture and other contaminants that could lead to corrosion and further structural compromises. To make matters more confusing, stop, tail, and turn functions were often performed by LED lamps, while backup lighting remained largely the realm of incandescent lamps. Optronics’ Fusion LED combination stop, tail, turn, and backup lamps were designed to give users the benefit of two lamps for the price of one. Additionally, because the lamps are LED, they are more dependable and safer than incandescent lamps. The original nine-inch oval Fusion LED combination lamp was introduced in 2014 and has since been made available in four-inch round and six-inch oval formats with grommet- flange- and surface-mount versions that fit virtually any standard lighting application. The entire family of Fusion LED combination stop, tail, turn, and backup lamps also use Optronics’ patent-pending Light Guide technology and some even use GloLight technology. Installing a six-inch Fusion surface-mount LED combination lamp requires only a half-inch hole for wiring and four holes for rivets or screws. LED SUPERLAMPS Lamps used on commercial vehicles’ interiors and exteriors are sometimes exposed to various chemicals and environmental conditions. The patented coating on LED SuperLamps resists 45 specific chemical agents, including petroleum distillates such as coolant ethylene and coolant propylene, as well as diesel fuel, battery fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, organic solvents, methanol, detergents, cleaners, and urea. The coating is applied to each SuperLamp’s entire exterior. Lenses and housings accept and bond with the coating. The electronic circuitry inside most LED lamps is vulnerable to ambient factors such as transient voltage, electromagnetic interference (EMI), and electrostatic discharge (ESD). These conditions can occur in, on, and around vehicles. Lamps featuring LED SuperLamp technology are not damaged by transient voltage, EMI and ESD, and because they are also designed with solid-state, surface-mount device (SMD) technology, their LEDs are able to continue to function even if a lamp’s circuit board is completely submerged in water. LED SuperLamps have been tested and have proven to resist component degeneration as a result of UV exposure, flammability, vibration, temperature cycling, accelerated aging, high-velocity water spray, free-fall drops, humidity, salt fog corrosion, dust, thermal shock, and/or gravel bombardment. “The introduction of the LED SuperLamp and subsequent adoption of this and other lighting technologies from Optronics is a testament to its durability, practicality, and cost-effectiveness,” Johnson says. “Moreover, it is an example of the right products at the right time, all taking vehicle lighting to a new level of creativity, style, and substance.”

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