23rd May 2013 by Royston Jones
This post has been contributed by my colleague, Lars Fredriksson, Director at Altair ProductDesign, Germany
When it comes to reducing the weight of products using advanced materials or design optimisation, there are two industries which make the majority of headlines. The automotive and aerospace industries are motivated by the increasing cost of fuel and need to deliver energy efficient products to market to meet tougher regulatory requirements and customer demand. However, it would be wrong to think that it is these two industries are alone in pushing for lighter design solutions.
A recent example which we were contributed to in Germany was with Britax-Römer, a leading manufacturer of child safety equipment. Weight in this industry is less motivated by fuel efficiency and more by consumer preference. Anyone who’s ever picked up a child seat will know that they can a be surprisingly heavy pieces of equipment due to the need for outstanding levels of safety performance during a vehicle crash. When faced with a selection of often very similar looking seats in a retail environment, ease of use and ease of transport becomes an important considerations during the decision making process.
The project involved Altair ProductDesign working with the company’s engineering team to find ways to reduce the weight of a child seat’s plastic and metallic components through the use of design optimisation techniques. Crucially for Britax-Römer, any change to the seat’s geometry should not negatively impact the safety performance of the product.
What’s particularly interesting about the work with Britax-Römer is the changes that were applied to the company’s design process as a result of the partnership. Britax-Römer’s previous process involved extensive use of physical prototyping and testing, an expensive cycle when faults are inevitably found. Since working with Britax-Römer, the company now implements simulation technology at the very first stages of the design process, allowing simulation to inform an innovative and weight efficient layout of material.
We recently spoke to Britax-Römer’s European Advanced Engineering Manager, Iain Powell, about some of the challenges in his industry and how simulation technology and optimisation solutions are helping the company deliver minimum weight products to the market. Take a look at the video below.
Find out more about this project at www.altairproductdesign.com