3rd July 2017 by Richard Yen
Last week, we announced our nominees for the 2017 Altair Enlighten Award. If you haven’t seen them yet, please go and check them out on our awards page where you can download a brief overview of each entry.
With that said, it’s time to continue our look back at last year’s award. Today it’s the turn of Dicastal, an automotive wheel manufacturer based in China but with offices in the US. The company’s 2016 nomination concerned wheels for the Honda Civic vehicle which needed to be lightweight while still maintaining the required performance and safety requirements needed on a component that has such a significant impact on ride and handling.
To save weight, Dicastal utilized lightweight aluminum and combined it with design optimization techniques to investigate where material could be safely removed. Topology optimization technologies from Altair were implemented to great effect by the company’s engineering team, successfully reducing the weight of the wheels by 5%. In their entry, Dicastal was keen to point out that the material saving on such a high production component (4 wheels per car on a high production vehicle, along with aftermarket spares) could lead to significant cost savings.
What was particularly interesting about this entry was that when we do see topology optimization based nominations to the Enlighten Award, it is commonly on parts of structures that are hidden from view when the vehicle is ready to drive. Wheels are very visible and form part of the overall visual appeal of a vehicle. This meant that Dicastal needed to balance weight savings that could be achieved with the need to keep the design visually appealing.
I thinks there is a certainly beauty to the organic looking shapes that optimization technologies create and it will be interesting to see if manufacturers become more willing to incorporate these designs into more visible areas of vehicle design in the future.