Implementing CAE into the Design Process for Composite Tennis Racquets at Wilson Sporting Goods

Wilson Labs design engineers have explored developments in Finite Element Analysis (FEA) for laminated composites, in particular for methods that can be applied to their composite tennis racquet lines. They were interested in reducing design cycle time and enhancing product value by taking advantage of simulation, automation, and optimization technologies in the development of tennis racquets. At the same time, Wilson Labs engineers were interested in accomplishing something unique or organic looking in terms of geometry.

The initial part of the work was done with a finite element model build based on the provided geometry representing the Outer Mold Line (OML) of the racquet that was undrilled, ungripped and without a handle.

Modeling of the laminate was kept at a simplified level. For each ply, the lay-up document was reviewed to understand the ply location, and then surfaces were trimmed and organized. Ply thicknesses were assigned, as were material properties. Loads and boundary conditions were also applied. Several analyses were performed using Altair’s structural analysis and optimization software OptiStruct® and results were validated to correlate with physical test data.

Altair’s engineers successfully modeled today’s tennis racquet in a virtual environment. Testing and analyses demonstrated the close correlation between a virtual model’s behaviors and real life behaviors.

The project inspired a high degree of confidence that HyperWorks brings the accuracy required to model the tennis racquets in a virtual space, and that virtual simulation as a resource is far more efficient than manual techniques. For all the performance metrics expected by the Wilson Labs racquet team (mass, center of mass, dynamic stiffness, static stiffness) the results showed an error percentage of less than 4%. The mass showed an error within 3%, center of mass in 2%, frequency being the dynamic stiffness was in 1% error, and the static stiffness was in 4% error, demonstrating results that were far better than expected up front.

“To my knowledge, we’ve never made as much progress as we have working with Altair. We knew Altair would be a good partner for us because they were able to demonstrate exactly how their software would work for an engineer – that was significant for us. And they worked with us to show how their product could tackle what we are looking to do.”
Bob Kapheim
Design Engineer
Wilson Labs

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