At Inspire Technical Solutions we believe that when developing a new product it is important to know that you have struck a perfect balance between robustness and cost/ weight. CAE analysis is a perfect tool to help inform Engineering decisions and develop an optimum design early in the design process, when changes cost the least and allows changes to styling before the design is finalised. CAE is only a tool however and at Inspire Technical Solutions we pride ourselves on not just being able to run analysis but also being able to interpret the results, using traditional engineering calculations to verify the results are reasonable and then present these results in an easy to understand format.
Reliability is also a major factor when designing a new product however testing every usage case is time consuming and expensive and any failure leads to expensive and time consuming changes. Utilising CAE effectively during the design phase means we can cover more use cases in significantly shorter times, at greatly reduced cost and at a point in the project where changes can be easily implemented. We can then define a targeted test programme to test only areas of concern and to provide correlation to the CAE.
CAE analysis is a very large and complex field but in the spirit of Inspire Technical solutions keeping it simple approach we have tried to explain the main types of structural analysis below.
This type of analysis, as the name suggests uses linear data for its input. So for example a material data card is curved in shape, linear analysis simply ignore the curved element as shown in figure 1 below. This is a cheaper way to cover many requirements where the loads applied do not cause the material to be plastically deformed. So for example if I take a metal rule and bend it gently and then let go it will return to its shape. This is elastic deformation. If I bend the metal rule and apply a much higher load I will cause the rule to stay bent. This is plastic deformation.
So for example if I want to test if my new design will feel stiff to a Customer linear analysis is a good option. If however I want to know how much load I can apply before the part breaks I would need to go into non-linear analysis
This type of analysis uses much more complex material data and code and takes longer to run. As such it is a more expensive, although also more accurate, form of analysis. Material data can be used at different speeds and temperatures adding to the accuracy of the analysis although true high speed data is very expensive to generate and is often not available.
Using either linear or non linear (linear more commonly) CAE can be used to take nothing more than a design space and generate an optimum geometry for a particular load case or set of load cases, in this way as long as we define the load cases correctly we can quickly get to an optimal design that can be used to inform the overall product design. Manufacturing limitations can even be used such as tooling direction to further refine the design