The level of testing needed to bear out these design changes wouldn't have been possible without an integrated CAD and CAE platform, according to Wiersema. "By using the computer to do a lot of the door designs, we were able to filter out the ones that were bad, then take the right one and try it in reality to prove out the concept," he said.
It also enabled the group to explore more design concepts than they had traditionally done when subbing out simulation work to third parties, mostly because they were able to retain their intellectual capital. "When you're working in a single, integrated environment, there's so much knowledge of the tools and the materials behavior that you can actually make something more efficient and have insight into what exactly is happening," Wiersema said.
While integrated simulation isn't necessarily taking time out of Donkervoort's development timeline, it is significantly cutting back on the number of physical prototypes that need to be built, and it is encouraging the engineering team to go further in pushing designs, Wiersema said. "The more time you have, the more you want to develop, and there's no end to how far you can go with the detailed amount of information you can get out of these software analysis tools."
For a look at GM's Chevy Volt, go to the Drive for Innovation site and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director Brian Fuller. In the trip, sponsored by Avnet Express, Fuller is taking the fire-engine-red Volt to innovation hubs across America, interviewing engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and students as he blogs his way across the country.
Good point, Rob. As CAD and CAE become more of an integrated process as opposed to siloed tools done by different groups within engineering, there are bound to be design efficiencies. The real benefit, here, though was upping the number of prototype designs explored without upping the number of physical prototypes having to be built. Time saver and money saver.
Interesting article, Beth. That's a nice way to increase possibilities in design -- to do it with computers instead of physical prototypes. While the process may not have saved design time in this case, I would imagine it would inevitably save time as this practice becomes part of the standard design process.
NASA and Boeing developed a huge, carbon composite cryogenic fuel tank for deep space missions, and started testing it last month. The 18-ft cryotank will enable heavy-lift launch vehicles to send both humans and robots into deep space.
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