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Altair Engineering: Helping Companies to Get It Right the First Time

Altair Engineering celebrates 20 years of accomplishment in providing value to its growing customer base. One of the ways in which Altair is helping companies successfully compete is by accelerating and improving the product development process through the effective use of computer-aided engineering (CAE) and design tools.

The increased integration of CAE methods into product design brings the advancement of finite element analysis (FEA) technologies like optimization. Optimization allows the design engineer to define a range of acceptable design parameters, as well as performance and mass targets. Then, it allows designers to analytically iterate the data to identify the optimum combination of variables to meet the objectives. FEA tools are also being used to virtually optimize a structure for cost, mass and performance, and are significantly changing the design process itself. Moreover, if integrated early enough into the design process, FEA can not only optimize, but also foster innovation in new product development.

As evidence of Altair’s increasing influence in the global CAE arena, the company was recently asked to participate in the 2005 International Transit Packaging Symposium in Chengdu, China organized by ISTA and IVY Management Company. The presentation – based on a paper by Joanne Zuzelski, Altair’s Director of Industry Focused Consulting – included a case study on the concept design and CAE techniques used to study and optimize the redesign of a 32-ounce capacity trigger spray bottle.

The objective of the project was to demonstrate the application of virtual engineering tools to achieve cost savings and improve structural performance. The project involved the integrated use of concept design methods and industrial design to meet three key objectives:

- To increase the number of bottles per pallet

- To reduce packaging material, and

- To reduce bottle mass.

By applying optimization methods, the project team’s objective was to identify a better product design in less time than the traditional approach. Targeted design and packaging criteria for the new design included improvements in:

- Bottle design space

- Performance (under top-load, fill and drop-load conditions)

- Label area

- Load case selection

- Bottles per box

- Stack height

- Board selection

- Bottle orientation, and

- Box size

Top-load, bulge (fill-load) and drop simulations were conducted on the current bottle design to establish the baseline performance. Then, a study was conducted on five selected footprints, with constant height but with varying lengths and widths.

Concept sketches were developed and then subjectively evaluated and rank-ordered by a multi-disciplinary team. The team based its analysis on factors such as volume efficiency, label area, aesthetics, grip shape, top-load ability and manufacturing. The top-ranked design concept was selected for development of a 3D model, using the optimal footprint from a rank-ordered study. The model was then used to optimize the structural performance of the bottle. Finally, shape and size (gauge) optimization was performed to evaluate the bottle for top-load resistance, bulge and drop events, while minimizing gram weight of the bottle.

The optimized design resulted in a bottle that passed bulge and drop test requirements, with a two-percent decrease in the weight of the bottle and a 66-percent increase in top-load capacity. The use of virtual product development methods followed in this project allowed the development of a new, optimized bottle design in approximately four to six weeks.

Specifically, several advantages from the new design included:

- Lower shipping costs, as the result of an optimized footprint and an increased number of bottles per pallet

- Lower packaging corrugate costs, as the result of the increased strength of top-

About Altair

Founded in 1985 and privately held with offices throughout 13 countries, Altair's unparalleled knowledge and expertise in product development and manufacturing extend throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As the developer of Altair® HyperWorks® - The Engineering Framework for Product DesignTM, Altair is the leading provider of high-end, open CAE software solutions for modeling, visualization, optimization and process automation. To learn more about Altair, visit their website at www.altair.com.

Joanne Zuzelski

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