Someone talking about designing a car that goes 375 kph is just the kind of thing that draws a standing-room-only crowd of engineers. And that was definitely the case when Luca Furbatto, head of the stress analysis and materials group at U.K.-based McLaren Racing, gave his presentation at MSC.Software's Virtual Product Development Conference in Munich, Germany last week.
The primary reason all those conference attendees packed this room, though, is to learn something new from their peers about FE analysis and virtual product development. A good case-in-point is Svenn Borgersen, Principal Consultant of BIOSIMulations, LLC. You might think a guy who has spent 37 years doing hands-on design and analysis has seen it all, but this Ph.D. from Minneapolis (who also spoke at the event) was looking forward to checking in on as many of the 60-some presentations as he could get to. "Basically I am hoping to pick up a few tips and tricks, some new ways of doing things that I haven't figured out yet," he said.
McLaren's Furbatto, who has to have one of the coolest engineering jobs on the planet, described how his group uses MSC's CAE tools to model complex structural race car components made of composite materials. One of the more challenging FE models they built recently was one of a new 7-speed gearbox, which is subjected to diabolical wear and tear, including rear impact, gear and torque loads, and both linear and nonlinear contact loads.
In all, Furbatto's group analyzes some 85 to 90 percent of the car's components and validates the simulations via physical testing and comparison with published data. The components are designed in CATIA. Then, the geometry and the ply properties such as fiber orientations and patterns are imported into MSC. Patran using the MSC.Patran Laminate Modeller. This application module allows engineers to create laminate designs that accurately reflect the actual ply-based composition of the component.
Furbatto was enthusiastic about the new module, pointing out that his team has experienced a high success rate predicting failure rates with the tools. He also liked its seamless integration with CATIA. But he did stress that, "While the interaction today between analysis, design, and manufacturing is strong, it is not ideal."
Engineers and analysts have been strong advocates of tighter integration, especially between CAD and CAE, to make their jobs easier and more productive. While they say it's getting better all the time—analysts at this conference particularly liked the repair capabilities that MSC.Software has put into its CAE tools—to cut time spent managing the transfer of data from one package to another.
Products like MSC.Software's SimDesigner, a software tool that allows design engineers to carry out motion, thermal, linear and non-linear structural analyses within the CATIA V5 environment, have been developed to address just this issue. And at a press briefing that kicked off this conference, new CEO Bill Weyand said that the company is committed to evolving from being a CAE company to becoming an integrated solutions company.