How digital prototyping is cutting development time and costs for new models. Computer simulation for crash testing, aerodynamics and fuel economy is shaving years off of the time that it takes to produce a new vehicle, that is helping save automakers millions of euros.
The go on to so-called Automotive Prototype helps decrease the development duration of a brand new model (from design freeze to Job 1) to 24 months from 36 months in contrast to the 1990s, based on research by analysts IHS Automotive. “The obvious benefits are lower costs, time savings and freshness in the product portfolio,” IHS senior manager Matteo Fini told Automotive News Europe.
Jaguar Land Rover head of r&d Wolfgang Epple named crash-testing, aerodynamics and fuel economy since the three most innovative regions of computer simulation. He stated that the amount of crash-test prototypes needed per new model has reduced to about 10 to 15 from 30 to 50 when testing was mandated.
“Crash simulation is done more than a maximum of two days nowadays, and that has brought the time from the development cycle,” Epple told Automotive News Europe. With every prototype costing about 500,000 pounds (about 685,000 euros), that reduction has saved a lot of cash. The JLR executive added it also offers improved crash performance: “Now it is possible to hit a wall at 50 mph and leave the vehicle without being injured.”
JLR would like to push simulation further. By 2020 it aims to engineer new models entirely on a computer ahead of the tooling phase, a source near the firm said. In certain areas the automaker is definitely near to this goal. The aerodynamic styling for the Jaguar XE midsize premium sedan was finalized without having to build a prototype to evaluate in a wind tunnel, JLR said. That helps because JLR doesn’t own a wind tunnel, an issue that’s not planning to change for around another year, Epple said.
To evaluate the XE’s aerodynamics JLR uses a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) program from U.S.-based Exa Corp. Automakers are focusing more about aerodynamics since they check out reduce fuel consumption and meet tough new emissions regulations. However they are limited on the experimenting they could do over a prototype in a wind tunnel, Exa CEO Stephen Remondi said. “There’s only an inch of clay on that model. If you wish to dramatically modify the rake from the windshield, you can’t,” he told Automotive News Europe.
Exa also uses its CFD program, Powerflow, to address an array of other issues on new models, starting from reducing dirt kicked up from the wheels to cutting wind noise and aiding cooling. Remondi said thermal simulation will help reduce the risk of cooling issues arriving at light following the design has become frozen. “You stop that situation where, suddenly you can’t make this part out of plastic anymore because it’s melting. It’s now got to be steel and suddenly the gain margin has dropped,” he explained.
Simulation’s single-biggest weakness is failing to give accurate dynamic feedback on how a vehicle drives, JLR’s Epple believes. When it comes to honing a new model’s handling characteristics, a driver in a real-life car is still the best validator, he stated.
Jaguar avoided the wind tunnel test because of computer simulation performed to measure airflow within the car. UK-based Ansible Motion, which develops vehicle dynamics simulators, believes it has solved this problem with its so-called Automotive Molding which costs between 1 million and two million pounds.
Ansible Technical Director Kia Cammaerts stated that the Stratiform Motion Platform, which faces an 8-meter long wraparound screen, does just what the dominant eight-legged hexapod driving simulators fail to do. “They’re mechanically not competent at offering the right sensations to the driver,” he said. “With our system you can develop vehicle dynamics in a virtual environment to your sufficient level that it’s actually useful.”
Ansible a year ago delivered certainly one of its systems to Ford. Ansible has made seven other systems, five happen to be sold to automakers as well as 2 to customers dealing with Formula One racing. The company declined to comment on its other clients. The automotive sector is currently going through a transformative period. Carmakers today must act quickly and smartly, anticipating market changes to bring affordable, exciting new products to consumers. To do so, companies now depend on rapid prototyping, that is completely transforming just how engineers create and test car designs, affecting many different auto careers along the way.
Whether it’s to validate a futuristic concept for a vehicle or perhaps a refresh a vintage car to accommodate the requirements today’s drivers, three-dimensional rapid prototyping accelerates the creative process and cuts down on the time and money invested in clay modeling and molding of expensive prototype parts. Designers and engineers around the world are able to see and touch their creations faster as well as at less expensive, which in turn enables them to receive real-world feedback on their designs to make hbvpyy to enhance them.
Before a part is made in the China Plastic Molding, your computer model is tested for proper airflow in a simulation environment. The 3D prototyping environment can generate a fully detailed vehicle, such as the engine, brake lines, drive shafts, exhaust system, transmission, suspension along with other car components.
New techniques like Selective Laser Sintering or Stereolithography allow engineers to quickly create a new part for wind tunnel testing, letting them test more iterations of the same part a lot sooner. Ventilation from the engine compartment and underneath the car is essential to both cooling the engine and lowering drag, which is why the wind tunnel is used for advanced tests.
Compared to old-style clay models that had to be re-sculpted each and every time, this is night and day, as engineers now receive feedback at multiple stages in the process. More hours is spent evaluating the impact from the changes than awaiting changes in be made. This will make it much easier to test an unconventional idea, as all is required is manpower.