27th March 2017 by Royston Jones
This piece was written by my colleague, Lars Fredriksson, Business VP – Simulation Driven Innovation at Altair.
Earlier this month, Altair and the Enlighten Award supported the Automobil Industrie Leichtbaugipfel in Würzburg, Germany. Leichtbaugipfel is hosted by one of the award’s media sponsors Automobil Industrie, and is one of Germany’s headline automotive events featuring automotive lightweight design topics and offering networking opportunities to OEMs and suppliers of the industry.
During the event, I had the pleasure of presenting alongside Thomas Spoida of Daimler AG on the subject of simulation technologies and their role in the concept development stage of vehicle design. Traditionally, the concept teams at vehicle makers have struggled to incorporate simulation tools into this very early stage of development and as a result, miss out on the valuable design guidance that the technologies can offer. The issue is not with the concept development teams themselves, but rather with the processes involved with implementing them within the fast moving, highly changeable nature of the concept process. Simply put, the tools just can’t keep up with the rate of change. Simulation teams can receive the request to explore the potential implications of changes to the vehicle body, only to find that when they deliver their results, the design has since moved on and their insight is no longer relevant.
Thomas Spoida and I were presenting the deployment of Altair’s C123 concept design approach which addresses this problem with the use of low fidelity, low resource intensive but highly accurate models. For those who would like get a feel for the process and techniques used, you can learn more about C123 here.
During the event, one of the heavily discussed questions was whether or not lightweight design will still be needed when e-Cars can recuperate energy. While Daimler’s presentation by Dr. Thomas Behr, Daimler AG suggested that this might not be the case, especially if a weight reduction of 50-70 kg results only in a further reach of the car of 1 percent, Altair argues that in order to account for all the additional features i. e. the autonomous mobility entertainment systems will have in the future, weight will still be a limiting factor.
In addition crash safety features will be as important as ever, especially when autonomous systems come in to use. And when it comes to match lightweight design and crash features, material substitution cannot be the only or even the major lightweight driver. When we’re considering using a lighter material, steel for aluminum for example is a common switch seen in the automotive world right now, we must ensure that we’re comparing an optimized steel design vs an optimized aluminum design. Using simulation tools to identify material that can be removed without missing performance target is the vital step in the design process to ensure that we’re comparing like with like and making good engineering and business decisions. Only when the material is used and designed in the appropriate manner can achieve its full potential.
This year for the first time, as part of the media cooperation between Automobil Industrie and the Enlighten Award, the evening event was sponsored by the Enlighten Award. The event was hosted at Würzburg’s Bürgerbräu, a traditional old brewery in the center of Würzburg, and Altair or rather in this case the Enlighten Award contributed to it with a short introductory speech presenting the award and several branding items. Altair received excellent feedback for its event contributions and is looking forward to numerous new nominations for the 2017 Enlighten Award from Germany. Nominations for the industry’s only award for automotive lightweighting can still be submitted until May 31st.
The Leichtbaugipfel was attended by over 300 automotive experts from all over Europe. Next year’s event will take place March 13-14, 2018, again in Würzburg.
All images courtesy of Automobil Industrie/Stefan Bausewein