The necessity to protect the environment has a direct impact on the design of current and future design of vehicles.
The weight saving requirement manifests itself in the downsizing of diesel and petrol engines.
Alternative engine systems have the potential to reduce the usage of fossil fuels. Electric drive vehicles require heavy on-board battery systems. This additional weight must be compensated for by a corresponding reduction in the mass of body and component structure.
The technical progress in steel, most commonly used body material, continues. With the help of simulation, an optimum design and material can be found for all structural components. Examples include the use of hot formed and high tensile steels for crash critical components, or the use of standard steels for optimal production considerations.
The use of aluminium for plate, profile or cast structures offers potential weight savings. Through the use of CAE analysis, any number of material configurations can be evaluated. Such considerations may lead to an all-aluminium solution or structures comprising a combination of materials.
The low weight requirement for the body structures of electric vehicles is motivated by the requirement to compensate for the addition mass of the on-board batteries. The use of carbon reinforced or glass fibre and laminate materials offers significant weights saving potential when the optimal structural topology, the shape of components, the layup configuration and directions are determined with the aid of computer based analysis and numerical optimization.
The most important structural design decisions must be made at the early stages of vehicle design. CDH has developed structural optimization procedures that aim to determine an optimal structural concept from global design requirements, without the requirement for detailed geometry data.
As the vehicle development progresses and detailed requirements for structural performance become available, CAE tools are applied to determine an optimum weight structural topology and form.
The effective use of CAE tools to determine a minimum weight structure requires a deep understanding of the manufacturing processes adopted. Manufacturing aspects include the deep drawing of steel profiles, the pressure casting of aluminium alloys and the layup configurations for fibre reinforced materials.
Experience is an important key to the successful implementation of lightweight structural design. The rich experience gained by CDH staff in countless projects over the last 25 years is available to serve our clients.