Optimization Drives Design with ACP OpDesign

As Steve Jobs once said, ”Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” A very true statement in this ever-changing world, and yet technology continues to be the driver behind that innovation.

This is certainly accurate in describing the product design and development space today. As high performance cluster computers (speed/memory), CAD model parameterization and multi-disciplinary optimization tools, as well as new analysis software tools have emerged; new methods of product development have been created.

Because the design of complex mechanical structures is driven by many competing criteria such as cost and weight reduction, contrasted by enhanced multi-disciplinary performance and manufacturability constraints, new technology is required to solve these challenges head on.

Furthermore, the introduction of new manufacturing processes and advanced materials, such as carbon fiber, Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS), Aluminum and magnesium significantly increases the available design space. A broader design space expands the set of all possible designs for mechanical systems, making the possibility to achieve the optimal design within reach.

To explore the entire design space more effectively, while trying to reduce design cycle times, engineers at Engineering Technology Associates, Inc. (ETA) developed an automated way to use optimization to drive the design process. They used design optimization as a virtual search engine resulting in hundreds of design concept possibilities, which meet design criteria/constraints at varying degrees. Like plots on a diagram, the optimal design concept can be found when the most ideal balance is met.

Evolving over the last decade, the methodology used is the Accelerated Concept to Product (ACP) Process®, a performance-driven, holistic product development method based on design optimization. The methodology combines design, material and manufacturing expertise with CAD, CAE and CAO tools. As a result, product development time, cost, mass and the number of resources required are reduced. At the same time, overall product performance and time to market is improved.

Using the ACP Process, the engineer can easily reveal the optimal balance of structure and strength and can greatly decrease the time required to identify a set of feasible, or even optimal, designs prior to building and testing the first prototype. The methodology has proved that it could also compensate for the limitations of human intuition and provide design engineers with the freedom and power to seek creative solutions that are not obvious to even the most experienced design engineer.

ETA recently joined forces with BETA CAE Systems, an innovation leader in engineering software specializing in state of the art CAE Pre/Post-Processing software systems, to form a unique collaboration. The partnership set forth to combine ETA’s ACP Process with BETA CAE System’s powerful software platform, ANSA, into ACP OpDesign. Currently undergoing benchmark testing at a major auto manufacturer, the tool will be released to the public in the first quarter of 2017.

ACP OpDesign provides two major functions for product design and development. First, it acts as an Optimization Suite, which allows the engineer to perform any type of design optimization. It offers an easy and effective gateway to commercial optimization and solvers. Second, led by design optimization, it provides tools to design structural products, from concept to production.

Using ACP OpDesign, various shape (Geometry), Gage, and material Grade design variables are setup using ANSA’s morphing and optimization setup functionality, also known as 3G Optimization. Post-Processing is done through automated META sessions, which track and report responses for all the runs, and optimization tools provide easy to use and simple to understand optimization results. CAE, design and manufacturing are all synchronized to find the optimal design solution using multiple CAE tools, application-specific tools, solver technologies and optimization solutions.

The solution can be applied to a wide range of structural products in a variety of industries including automotive, aerospace, heavy truck, packaging, appliance and many other industries. ACP OpDesign is a gateway to a wide variety of tools and promises to revolutionize the product design and development process, making a wide array of structural products lighter, cheaper, stronger and more efficient.

More information, as well as an opportunity to sign-up to be among the first to try ACP OpDesign, can be found by visiting www.ACPOpDesign.com.