Developing a Customized Solution to Significantly Reduce Costly Pre-Processing Activities

The consumer goods industry is fast paced and highly competitive, with designs becoming increasingly complex while the timeline for production shrinks. Companies like Mabe must innovate and develop new products quickly in order to remain on the consumer radar, and conducting various analysis studies on their designs helps them to do so.

This project addresses the tedious and time consuming task of modeling the foam within the product door that helps maintain the internal temperature and also absorbs shock in a drop situation. Modeling the foam effectively is complex and difficult due to the complicated nature of the doors and other cavities, so the step was often skipped, causing inefficiencies with the product.

Mabe and Altair ProductDesign have built a successful and longstanding relationship through past collaboration, which led Mabe to approach Altair’s team for support on refrigerator door foam modeling (RDFM). To tackle the problem, Altair ProductDesign suggested a highly customized solution based on its Impact Simulation Director that would take the finite element (FE) models of the interior and exterior door components and fill the void automatically before taking the faces that contact the foam and extending those elements to fill the void.

The team cleaned up the geometry surfaces of the refrigerator model and analyzed the foam development to see how it interacted within its doors and cabinets. Once those areas of foam contact were identified, an FE mesh of the product was created and the RDFM surfaces were extended between the internal plastic and external steel in order to minimize the void. Lastly, the packaging components and material properties were applied and the drop test simulation was conducted.

After implementing the customized RDFM solution, Mabe was able to rapidly create the foam volumes, readying the model for drop analysis. At project completion, they reduced the entire foam pre-processing by 50%, with the objective to decrease it further to only a few days with future projects. The key benefit of this solution is that it allows for early error detection, helping Mabe’s design engineers trim components and fill gaps properly and avoid meshing incorrect surfaces only to realize in the analysis phase that some gaps were left unfilled.

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