Overcoming the Challenges of Composite Design

Automotive manufacturers are utilizing lightweight materials as a method of minimizing mass and maximizing fuel economy. Automotive design company, Gordon Murray Design (GMD) believes that composite materials can play a much larger role in the manufacture of vehicles. To prove its case, the company has developed ‘iStream’, an efficient process for manufacturing low and high volume cars from lightweight material. To validate the iStream structure, GMD required an experienced simulation partner.

Find out more about Gordon Murray Design at www.gordonmurraydesign.com

GMD selected Altair ProductDesign to support this project due to its simulation experience and link with Altair’s HyperWorks software development business. Altair ProductDesign was asked to improve the virtual modeling of the sandwich panel composite materials used in iStream to achieve correlation with physical test results.

To model the iStream Structure, Altair ProductDesign suggested a 1D beam and shell element finite element modeling method. This allowed the creation of representative virtual models of the composite material much earlier than in a standard development process. Design direction could be quickly explored, manipulated and assessed without creating compute intensive analyses. Accelerating the analysis process enables GMD to rapidly investigate more design variations and achieve the optimal design configuration in a shorter timescale. With accurate models of the composite structure in place, the project will move on to assess the crash performance at a full system level.

As the analysis and correlation to physical test stages of the project become finalized, Altair ProductDesign will continue to work with GMD and develop the iStream structure to improve crash performance. The use of advanced materials requires innovative methods of design and validation to ensure that they perform at the highest levels without compromise to safety. The combination of simulation expertise from Altair ProductDesign and the vehicle development and composite expertise of GMD has been a highly effective partnership that will help to prove the value of the innovative iStream process.

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