Minimizing Material Use for an Innovative New Building Product

Re-Loc is a UK based company that developed a new product to help to accelerate the process of positioning metal reinforcement bars inside concrete bricks. The Re-Loc product is a clip that fits tightly inside the brick’s cavity and attaches to the bar, holding it securely in place as the cavity is filled with concrete. The team had already developed a rough design and proved that it could perform its intended job, but problems arose when it came to the high manufacturing cost of the product. Re-Loc approached Altair ProductDesign to explore ways of reducing material use and cost from the part and to bring the design to a production level.

The part had to be sufficiently stiff to maintain the position of the bars inside the bricks while still allowing the concrete to be poured through and be able to endure the high humidity and temperature levels during use. Following a study of suitable materials, Altair ProductDesign performed dynamic simulation analysis of the existing design to discover the current performance levels to help benchmark any new design concepts developed. The team then performed a topology optimization study on the component to investigate ways of improving the product’s performance while minimizing material use.

The topology results were interpreted back into a detailed CAD design by Altair ProductDesign and the team applied their experience to suggest further enhancements to the overall design to maximize performance. These changes included making the member width thicker, increasing the part width from 19 to 25mm to improve flexion stiffness, increasing the tightness of the fit around the bar so it adds to the overall stiffness of the product. Other enhancements included changing the length of the product’s ‘fingers’ to improve contact distribution throughout the range of brick dimensions, reducing the gap between each finger to help prevent buckling, and modifying the design to allow the products to stack on top of each other.

The final design produced by Altair ProductDesign successfully met the performance targets set at the beginning of the project. The new part now uses 45%-55% less material than the original design, saving as much as half the material costs. The team’s involvement in selecting materials, analyzing performance, optimizing material use and suggesting additional enhancements has assisted greatly in turning the Re-Loc product from a great idea into a highly engineered, manufacturable, high performance product.

"With the aid of Altair ProductDesign, the optimization process has provided Re-Loc with a secure future. Testing, design modifications and optimization puts my product ahead of competitors by making it the best that it can be. The product can be proven a success even before manufacture, saving time and money. Many thanks to the team at Altair."
Robin Holthusen, Owner, Re-Loc

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