Faced with rising fuel prices and growing environmental concerns, the automotive industry is reinventing itself — and simulation is playing a critical role.

Friction-induced squeal in automotive brakes is an increasing source of customer complaints. An integrated approach to brake squeal prediction incorporates bidirectional computer-aided design (CAD) connectivity, automated meshing and connectivity, flexibility to use a linear and/or a nonlinear solver, parametric and sensitivity studies, and a wide range of graphical outputs. This method substantially reduces setup time, correlates well with physical testing, maintains in-sync models with production and the supply chain, and makes it possible to automatically evaluate a large number of design alternatives to quickly identify the optimal design. (CAD model courtesy of TRW Automotive)
Multiphysics technologies span the breadth of automotive engineering challenges, from the chip level to an entire system such as a sophisticated electric powertrain. Automotive design encompasses fluid dynamics, structural mechanics, electromagnetics, and thermal transfer. Furthermore, and perhaps more critical, simulation solutions must support the systems-level approach that will help automotive designers meet the aggressive timetable established for truly reinventing cars, trucks, and other vehicles.

Only by looking at vehicles as connected systems — instead of as isolated components — can auto designers arrive at a new generation of products that meets the diverse needs of consumers, environmental groups, and government regulators. Particularly for the new smart cars of the future, designers must ensure that computer chips, circuit boards, and antennas interact reliably with such critical components as brake and steering systems, ensuring product integrity and passenger safety.

Winning the Race

There are many automotive leaders who are leveraging the power of simulation to amplify their resources, turbocharge their product design efforts, make products safer, and contribute to saving the planet.

In the hybrid/electric vehicle sector, General Motors has enlisted a team (which includes ANSYS) to develop commercial battery software tools, expecting to accelerate development of next-generation cars. With funding from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the project is focused on breaking the industry’s expensive and timeconsuming process of design−build−test−break for prototyping and manufacturing lithium-ion batteries.

Complex structures such as vehicles are never 100 percent compliant in the real world. When a design does not take this into account, structures can distribute loads that lead to significant — and even catastrophic — consequences. A leader in agricultural equipment manufacturing developed a new approach to structural analysis that considers the effects of weld noncompliance.

These companies, and others in the auto industry, are leading the way to the next generation of automotive design. There is no doubt that the results of innovative engineering efforts will be visible on highways and in off-road applications within the next few years, serving as an example of what can be accomplished through innovative engineering.

This article was written by Sandeep Sovani, Manager of Global Automotive Strategy, for ANSYS, Inc. (Canonsburg, PA).


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Article References

Hebbes, M. Breakthrough in Brake Squeal Prediction Helps to Eliminate Noise Problems Early in Design Process. White paper,, 2012.

Khondge, A.; Sovani, S. Scaling New Heights in Aerodynamics Optimization: The 50:50:50 Method. White paper,, 2012.

Smith, B. 16X Speedup in ANSYS Maxwell DSO on 32-Core High-Performance Compute Farm Doubles Traction Motor Design Productivity at General Motors. White paper,, 2012.

ANSYS Making Electric Vehicle Batteries More Practical and Efficient. Press release,, 2012.

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