SolidWorks World: From Walking Art to Gliding Speed

By Aurelien

A recap of Day2 General Session from SolidWorks World 2014, held in San Diego, Jan 28th, 2014.

Consumer products go on a diet, getting lighter and stronger

By Paul

Have you noticed that your new tennis racket or softball bat is lighter and easier to swing, yet stronger than your old one?  Maybe your new sports car hugs the road tighter than before but has even better safety ratings and fuel efficiency than the older model?

If you’ve recognized these things already, you’re probably using new-age composites.

Carbon fiber composites are having a wide-reaching effect on many industries, from automotive to office furniture.  The desk chair above, made from composite materials, was designed in Dassault Systèmes’ SolidWorks.

Composite materials, where two or more constituent materials are fused together, have been in use for a very long time.  Plywood, where wood is glued at different angles to give it more desirable properties than natural wood, is one of the earliest examples. However, the technology to create these materials has taken a giant leap forward, enabling fiber-reinforced composites and more specifically carbon-fiber composites.  This is revolutionizing product design in a number of different industries and dramatically improving the experience for end users.

The transportation and mobility industry is one of the biggest beneficiaries of carbon-fiber composites because the material is stronger and lighter than the steel and sheet metal that’s currently used in trains, planes and automobiles, and takes away any risk of corrosion.  To see how impactful these things can be, take a car for example.  Strong yet lightweight composites can improve safety and fuel economy at the same time, which is a pretty big deal in the face of government regulations and a global energy crunch.  Using lightweight composites on the roof of a car also lowers the center of gravity for a more exhilarating driving experience, while maintaining structural integrity.

Composites are different than traditional materials because you actually design material that is optimized for an intended purpose.  This is much different than working with sheet metal where the material is simply cut or shaped to fit a design.  With composites, material is designed to meet the needs of specific parts – from the frame of a car, to its hood, roof or bumper.  However, this also adds a level of complexity to product design, which is why an integrated environment – like Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Platform, where design, simulation and manufacturing procedures can all be performed – is a major benefit.  Without an integrated platform, a manual translation must be performed between each stage, greatly increasing the chance of errors and the potential to waste time and materials.


Plasan’s Jim Staargaard easily lifts the roof of a 2013 SRT Viper. Lightweight carbon fiber body panels helped cut 100 lbs. from previous models of the car.

Plasan Carbon Composites provides a great example of a company delivering on the value of composites through its use of the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform.  The company supplies parts for leading automotive OEMS worldwide, including hoods, roofs and fenders for the Chevy Corvette and Dodge Viper.  To further extend the benefits of composites, Plasan is also leading the charge to bring carbon-fiber frames and sub-structure components to the automotive industry.

While helping OEMs achieve their goals of sustainability and better fuel economy, Plasan is also practicing sustainable innovation itself.  Using the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform, the company has eliminated trial-and-error for “right-first-time” designs and fewer physical prototypes, reduced power usage through an innovative new curing process, and reduced the number of plies in a part design for higher quality and improved performance.

Car and Driver magazine reviewed the 2013 SRT Viper and notes the impact of composite materials about 40 seconds into the following video:

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Paul Di Laura is Vice President, Value Solutions for North America

Lighter, Tougher, Greener with Composites

By Michael

What sounds like the appraisal for a world-saving superhero turns out to be the promise of a super modern material used to build products which are targeted to withstand ultimate conditions – called composites.

Most of us have been in touch with fiberglass materials for hobby purposes or for touching up minor damages on the car. This technique has been around for almost a century and used for sculpturing free-form structures up to the size of a sailing boat.

Well, this type of layered mix of solid fibers and first liquid then solidifying resin today has well advanced to become a compound which overtakes metal in terms of material properties, i.e. durability, toughness, while maintaining a significant lower weight per volume.

Typical tensile strengths of some materials (from Wikipedia)

Material Ultimate strength
(MPa)
Density
(g/cm³)
Stainless steel AISI 302 – Cold-rolled 860 8.19
Structural steel ASTM A36 steel 400 7.8
Carbon steel 1090 841 7.58
Steel (AISI 1060 0.6% carbon) Piano wire 2,200-2,482 7.8
Titanium alloy (6% Al, 4% V) 900 4.51
Aluminium alloy 6063-T6 248 2.63
High density polyethylene (HDPE) 37 0.95
E-Glass 3,450 2.57
S-Glass 4,710 2.48
Carbon fiber 5,650 1.75
Aramid (Kevlar or Twaron) 2,757 1.44
Human hair 380
Bamboo 350-500 0.4
Bone (limb) 130 1.6
Diamond 2,800 3.5

No question that the combination of strong and light can offer major advantages for anything that is moving, such as transportation vehicles. “Less weight = less energy consumption = less carbon footprint” is a formula which counts if we want to advance an environmentally conscious approach. No wonder why the new generation of passenger aircraft from Boeing and Airbus are designed using 50% of composites materials for their structural parts!

Although those aerospace examples are the most prominently visible, the use of composites is spreading out to many other industries, including sports & leisure (e.g. bikes, golf clubs), energy (e.g. wind turbines) and architecture (pre-fab construction panels).

This recent newsflash talks about German car manufacturers’ hot trend for carbon materials to comply with EU regulations regarding weight and CO2 targets. Such light “Mega City Vehicles” built with composite materials and E-drive (heavy batteries) could define a new vehicle type from 2013 already.

With the widespread use of composites the production processes need to abandon the purely manual stage, to become digitally controlled – engineered to manage the complex fiber lay-up and resin application process, and to run it efficiently on an industrial scale. Transforming the composites industry from what has been called “Black Art” to an industrial discipline is the objective of the partnership between National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University in Kansas USA and Dassault Systèmes.

Manufacturers that target composite technologies to give them the competitive edge for their products are confronted with the challenge to build the competencies to master equipment and methods, required to successfully control a composite design and production process.

Dassault Systèmes has taken a leadership role in composites with an integrated PLM solution that encompasses design, simulation and digital manufacturing solutions, and that helps manufacturers to master the challenge to control and run composites production end-to-end (read more). The 3DS solution is now running on the unique V6 platform, thus adding live collaboration and experience features to support global teams working together. Have a look at the interview to hear what my colleagues Philippe Savignard and Laurent Delsart have to say about the composites industry status quo and future potential.

Check out the videos to learn more about the 3DS PLM composites solution.

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But that is not all. For the evolution of the composites PLM solution and related know-how the 3DS team relies on a truly vivid collaboration with customers, research facilities, industry consortia and a network of selected solution partners. Already five partners have signed in to develop their applications on the V6 platform and thus complete and extend functionalities of the global PLM V6 composite solution: Simulayt Limited, Magestic Systems Inc., Coriolis Composites SAS, Cincinnati Machine LLC. and Ingersoll Machine Tools Inc.

Find out more on the Dassault Systèmes partnerships and description of these solution partners on our website.

Soon more from the wonderful world of engineering.

Best,
Michael



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Beyond PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), Dassault Systèmes, the 3D Experience Company, provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. 3DSWYM, 3D VIA, CATIA, DELMIA, ENOVIA, EXALEAD, NETVIBES, SIMULIA and SOLIDWORKS are registered trademarks of Dassault Systèmes or its subsidiaries in the US and/or other countries.