Cadillac will make its debut in the compact luxury market segment this year, thanks to a massive engineering effort that has resulted in a lightweight, high-strength body structure.
The structure makes liberal use of aluminum, magnesium, high-strength steel, and ultra-high-strength steel. It played a key role in bringing the new ATS sedan in at a curb weight 500 pounds lighter than that of its closest predecessor, the Cadillac CTS.
"We counted mass on all of our structural members in terms of grams," David Masch, vehicle chief engineer of Cadillac, told us. "We even ended up debating the size of fasteners."
The ATS body structure employs a combination of aluminum, magnesium,
high-strength steel, and ultra-high-strength steel.
(Source: Design News)
Cadillac's design effort called on teams of structural engineers, chassis engineers, materials specialists, and mathematicians to create a body structure that would manage loads intelligently. By positioning structural members to be in shear, rather than in bending, the designers made cross-sectional areas of virtually all members smaller. "Putting members in shear is the most efficient way to manage loads," Masch said. "The more you can get those structural members in line with the loads, the more efficient you can make them."
Cadillac's approach to cutting weight out of its vehicles reminds me of the diet plan, Weight Watchers, which advocates a slow and methodical approach to weight loss unlike some other plans that look for bigger, more immediate results. I think Cadillac's commitment to cutting mass in the ATS by reexamining every facet of the design, down to the fastener level, can't help but be the more effective way to ensure a lighter, yet still highly stable and high performance vehicle. Chuck, obviously new material choices and close attention to customer requirements played key roles in its redesign effort, but what about use of CAE software? I'm assuming that FEA played a key role in the weight reduction redesign operation.
The question of whether engineers could have foreseen the shortcut maintenance procedures that led to the crash of American Airlines Flight 191 in 1979 will probably linger for as long as there is an engineering profession.
More than 35 years later, the post-mortem on one of the country’s worst engineering disasters appears to be simple. A contractor asked for a change in an original design. The change was approved by engineers, later resulting in a mammoth structural collapse that killed 114 people and injured 216 more.
If you’re an embedded systems engineer whose analog capabilities are getting a little bit rusty, then you’ll want to take note of an upcoming Design News Continuing Education Center class, “Analog Design for the Digital World,” running Monday, Nov. 17 through Friday, Nov. 21.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.