There is a shift happening in the automotive design space, according to two industry professionals.

The change is a loud one, some might say. Vehicle manufacturers are paying a lot more attention to the idea of comfort.

"Customers spend thousands of hours in the vehicle that they buy, so therefore they demand these vehicles to give them a comfortable ride and experience," said Siva Senthooran in a live Tech Briefs-led presentation this month. Senthooran is the Director for Acoustics and Interior Comfort Industry Processes at the software engineering firm Dassault Systèmes.

"So quieter cabin and a smooth ride are key components for them to have a good experience," Senthooran told the audience.

Two components that lead to a quieter, more comfortable ride: Noise and vibration. Automotive manufacturers want to make sure that a passenger's trip has less of both.

Engineers are using digital simulations to determine how their designs contribute to noise inside the cabin, from the squeals of a brake to the whines of a gear.

By observing the simulation and tracking a predictive performance, an OEM can make design changes earlier in the product-development process. The early work limits late-stage failures and reduces costs, according to Robert Powell, a Senior Specialist at Dassault Systèmes, who also spoke during the Tech Briefs presentation.

"You're not faced with cost pressure during a launch delay where you have to get this out, and you're willing to spend more money," said Powell. "You can have some months to negotiate with suppliers and reduce that development cost and part cost."

In the webinar, titled Digital Solutions to Design Vehicles for Noise and Vibration, an attendee had the following question for the speakers:

"Do the materials of construction have a big effect on gear-generated noise?"

Read Powell's edited response below.

Robert Powell: Obviously, for gear design, your materials are critical but it's more from a durability focus.

We wouldn't choose a material for a gear tooth based on its noise performance. But the shape of the gear does affect things, not so much the materials.

The material choice becomes more important when we're talking about housings. In the interest of lightweighting, we're trying to get more and more exterior covers and housings to be lightweighted with plastic or composite materials, and they tend to be lighter. They move more, they have higher velocity, and they can radiate sound. So the materials choice is perhaps more important when we're talking about vibration.

We have to have accurate material models to get their stiffness and mass distribution to be able to predict the vibration above mounts and the radiated noise.

What do you think? Share your questions and comments below.