Armed with a new add-on tool for its Abaqus FEA software, Dassault Systemes' SIMULIA brand is taking aim at manufacturers deploying composite structures for lighter weight designs and improved performance.
CZone for Abaqus, which works with SIMULIA's FEA software, helps engineers study the crushing behavior of composite structures used in automobiles, helicopters, aircraft, trains and other transport vehicles. Compared to heavier metallic designs, composite materials provide increased energy absorption in crushable structures, serving to better protect occupants and cargo from damage or injury during a crash.
Existing FEA programs have been limited in their ability to accurately simulate and predict the crushing of composite materials during impact, according to Marc Schrank, director of crashworthiness at SIMULIA.
Specifically, simulation tools have not been able to reliably simulate the behavior of the composite structure outside the crush zone to account for possible damages, fractures or buckling, he says. Using technology from UK-based Engenuity Ltd., CZone for Abaqus determines the extent of composite materials crushing for areas outside defined "crush zones," which are typically located at the forward edges of a product.
Marrying the capabilities of CZone with what Abaqus currently provides, allows design teams to handle the crush front in a more accurate and robust way than was previously possible. "Now we can get to the stage where we're able to predict where those other problems or fractures might occur elsewhere in the structure," Schrank says.
Using the results of the CZone for Abaqus simulations as a guide, engineers can then refine designs to optimize the placement, thickness, construction and geometry of crush structures.