17th April 2015 by David Mason
Last week, we reviewed MAHLE’s award entry where the company saved 31% of the weight from a powertrain connecting rod. This week we will keep the powertrain theme and take a look back at India’s Maruti Suzuki’s nomination; the optimization of a rear engine mounting bracket for the Maruti Alto.
The engine mount is responsible for taking distributed engine loads and minimizing the vibrations being transferred to the body frame. A lighter engine mount can help to achieve better fuel economy and lower emission levels, thereby improving overall engine performance.
Like Multimatic, Maruti Suzuki wanted to implement design optimization technology to find the ideal layout of material for the engine mounting bracket. In this case, Altair’s own optimization solution, OptiStruct, was used to achieve the best possible solution with a minimum number of iterations.
Topology optimization was used to remove redundant material while still achieving performance targets. The optimized design had to be validated for strength as well as vibration performance to confirm it would match the performance of the baseline design.
The final bracket is 330 grams which corresponds to 15% lighter than the original engine mounting bracket. Maruti Suzuki noted that the same approach could be used for other engine components or similar components in other car models for further weight reduction without affecting design functionality.
Our judging panel were particularly impressed with Maruti Suzuki’s discovery that as well as being able to take weight out of the bracket itself using optimization tools, the design team was able to completely eliminate a bolt in the new design. Using less material in a component or utilizing a lighter material to build structures are excellent strategies, but being able to completely remove a complex feature or component represents the ideal scenario. In this case, optimization technology in combination with Maruti Suzuki’s experienced engineers have managed to identify and remove manufacturing complexity, reduce costs and achieve a 100% weight saving!