Nature: The Greatest Force on Earth Driving the Design Process

28th January 2013 by Royston Jones

Last week, the North American International Auto Show kicked off in Detroit’s newly renovated COBO Center with press and industry preview days before opening the show to the public last weekend. For me, it’s easy to see how simulation technology played a role in the impressive end results for the vehicles exhibited across the show floor. 

However, that might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re staring face-to-face with a stunning concept car.

Lightweight design, performance, fuel efficiency standards, carbon emissions and vehicle safety all will continue to be topics discussed among the many engineers, analysts, automotive enthusiasts and other show attendees. Simulation technology will be inherently present within some of the most impressive products on the show floor.

Last month, Executive Vice President of Global Markets Jeff Brennan met with the New York Times to discuss how engineers are working to adapt the processes of nature to lightweight design. Jeff explained how Altair’s bone-growth, evolutionary technology can contribute to lighter, stronger parts in automotive, aviation, architectural and other industrial products from the beginning of the design stage.


Altair designed a lightweight bus to demonstrate how smarter software can improve efficiencies and cut weight at the early design stage of product


This technology encourages industrial designers and engineers to take a new approach to their work by using the principles of nature and biomimicry, allowing nature’s greatest characteristics—such as efficiency, strength and purpose in form—to drive their designs. This technique is one way to meet tough new corporate average fuel economy rules. “Like carbon fiber for steel, smarter software can cut weight,” Jeff said.

As fuel economy and carbon emission standards continue to tighten it will be interesting to see which OEMs and their partners further leverage simulation technology in their design process.