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ANSYS 19.2 Release Highlights

Topology Optimization Makes the Weight Melt Away from Automotive Designs

The best way for engineers to improve fuel efficiency and emissions is to get car parts to shed weight.

When automotive engineers are tasked to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, their best tactic is to make the car lose a few pounds on the topology optimization diet.

KSI International (KSI) estimates that dropping a car’s weight by 25 percent can reduce fuel consumption by about 10 percent. In comparison, KSI notes that reducing drag by 25 percent will only save about 5 percent in fuel.

As a result, engineers exercise a lot of brain power to reduce the weight of modern automotive vehicles. It’s the reason why car parts are now made from aluminum or composites. It’s also one of the reasons why Tata’s Nano and Mercedes-Benz’s Smart car make headlines.

The challenge is that there is only so much weight the human mind can sweat from cars. That’s why engineers are now turning to tools like ANSYS topology optimization to help their cars lose weight, so they can use less fuel.

How Automotive Parts Lose Weight on the Topology Optimization Diet

Traditionally, KSI spent about seven days optimizing its brake pedal designs.

Since switching to topology optimization, KSI has been able to cut 21 percent of the pedal’s weight. They were able to do this in only 48 hours.

KSI’s inputs into ANSYS’ topology optimization tool

As for the warm-up, KSI first simulated the pedal in ANSYS Mechanical. It found that much of the part experiences low stress under all load cases. This signals to KSI that its design is a little overweight.

The traditional routine to reduce a part’s weight is to redesign it manually or parametrically. However, these regimens are time-consuming and focus on the dimensions of the part.

KSI’s optimized part is 21 percent lighter than the previous design.

Topology optimization performs a whole-body makeover on the part. KSI defines the part’s optimization objective. It then defines the constraints the software will follow when optimizing the part, such as:

  • The outer boundaries of the part.
  • The connection points of the part.
  • The strength constraints of the part.

The software iteratively grows a part to meet these requirements. From there, KSI refines the part so it meets any other constraints out of scope of the topology optimization. The whole project took under 30 percent of the time KSI would typically spend reducing a part’s weight.

To learn more about how KSI optimized its brake pedal, read Taking the Metal Out of the Pedal.

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