Reducing Development Time by 70%

Toshiba’s goal was to reduce the physical size of a new hard disk drive (HDD), while increasing the recording density of the disk. The HDD transfers data with the recording surface of the disk, using a chip approximately 1mm square called a magnetic head slider. The slider moves while keeping an approximately 10nm gap (flying height) above the disk, which is travelling at high speed. To increase the recording density of the HDD, the minimum flying height of the slider needs to be decreased. The flying height is determined by the pressure exerted on the Air Bering Slider (ABS) by the flow of air generated by the spinning disk. This pressure distribution is dependant upon the shape (groove depth) of the ABS. Toshiba’s objective was to redesign the shape of the ABS to increase the stability, so to reduce the flying height of the slider.

To achieve this objective, Toshiba partnered with Altair ProductDesign to assist in automating large parts of its design process. Toshiba is a user of Altair's own HyperWorks suite of virtual simulation tools. With in-depth, insider knowledge of the technology combined with a wealth of electronic product development experience, Altair ProductDesign was able to develop a series of new automation templates specifically designed to improve Toshiba's unique development process. New pre-processing and optimization macros automated solver input file creation and quickly defined design variables to optimize the shape of the ABS, thus reducing the required input from Toshiba's engineers.

Collaboration with Altair ProductDesign enabled the electronics giant to automate its established workflow and take advantage of commercially supported modeling, optimization and visualization technology to meet its design objective. Tailored macros automated laborious engineering tasks and allowed users at all experience levels to achieve similar results. As a result of this automation, Toshiba saved 70 percent of the total time traditionally associated with the HDD design process. Most importantly, Toshiba increased stability and, in turn, reduced the flying height of the slider successfully.

This new product development process successfully minimized the ABS flying height while maintaining its stability. This, in turn, reduced the overall size of the HDD and increased its recording density. In addition, the new design was brought to market in significantly less time than with Toshiba’s traditional design process. This innovative application of simulation and optimization technology to create a competitive advantage represents the kind of advanced product development strategy on which Toshiba has built its reputation.

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