Solutions to accelerate adoption of new-gen materials for light weighting

by Panduranga Rao Chirala, Senior VP, Altair 02 Feb 2022

Motivation of light weighting – is it cost, environment or something else? All of them and some more. At one time, it was fuel economy, performance, emissions, sustainability and cost. Now cost is to be seen as cost of ownership. In early 80s, vehicles were sold as fuel efficient vehicles and with marketing tag lines highlighting the mileage.

Desire to innovate is the most exciting driver – not with incremental changes but radical design changes to leverage the availability alternate materials and advanced processes. Government and OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers played important role and contributed with policies on fiscal concessions, incentivised the fuel-efficient and vehicles meeting emission norms.

Weight reduction was always an essential skill set and process adopted by R&D teams, Product development and Vehicle engineering groups for past few decades. Exploration of opportunities to reduce weight essentially for cost reduction with alternate process coupled with limited material changes was attempted with caution.  Most of the time, this process faced stiff resistance due to the new tooling cost, enormous amount of cost, efforts in development of physical prototypes, validation and getting internal approvals as well as homologation. Need for new investments for developing advanced materials and process development was also one of deterrent. Available stocks, excessive tooling costs also discouraged implementations of even proven ideas.  Basis for approval has always been comparative assessment of current part vs proposed new part with original acceptance criteria. This experience has resulted appreciation and need for more focus on weight management at early stage of product design. Interestingly, validation and acceptance criteria were rarely challenged or modified.

Customer requirements, usage conditions, expectations, lifestyle are changing rapidly leading to change in design considerations and acceptance criteria. Regulations are also being amended, upgraded, made more relevant and stringent.  Designers and analysts are exploring the opportunities and options to balance between cost, performance (includes durability, NVH, Safety, Ride and Handling), weight.

Over the past three decades, Altar has pioneered optimisation solutions for its customers by developing and implementing simulation technologies that allow, light weight and sustainable products. 

Altair has successfully unveiled in September 2011 the world’s first series hydraulic hybrid bus developed through simulation driven design with a focus on minimising weight to maximise fuel economy.

Achieved 15 percent lighter weight compared to hybrids at the curb level.  The structure in isolation is 30 percent lighter than comparable bus designs.  The fuel economy achieved is 30% better than the best electric hybrid.

Topology optimisation for any manufacturing method:  Altair’s industry leading topology optimization tools are built to consider, adhere to the rules of multiple manufacturing processes  and include shape optimization .

Technology is driving the innovative, lightweight, and structurally efficient designs of the products you see and use every day. OptiStruct also supports many other structural optimization methods, multi-disciplinary optimization, and provides a broad range of constraints, including traditional processes and additive manufacturing.

OptiStruct is widely used at the world’s most innovative companies to design and optimize of laminate composites. It delivers optimal ply shapes, the optimal number of plies, and the optimal stacking sequence, while observing manufacturing constraints. 

Multi-disciplinary design exploration:  Technology solutions for a multi-disciplinary design exploration, study, and optimization software for engineers and designers. Using design-of-experiments, metamodeling, and optimization methods, these solutions create intelligent design variants, manages analysis runs, and collects data. Users are guided through the process to conclude data trends, perform trade-off studies, and optimize design performance and reliability.

Digital twin:  Digital twins help organizations optimize product performance, gain visibility into the in-service life of a product, know when and where to perform predictive maintenance, and how to extend a product’s remaining useful life (RUL). These digital twin integration platform blends physics- and data-driven twins to support optimization throughout the products lifecycle.

The Physics twin: The physics based, simulation-driven digital twin leverages standardized, tool independent interfaces like the Functional Mock-up Interface (FMI), co-simulation methods with geometry-based 3D CAE tools, and reduced order modelling approaches to derive low fidelity models from detailed simulations.

The Data Twin: The data-driven twin uses machine learning algorithms and data science to optimize product performance. Looking at the problem through this lens allows you to get fast, real-time insights about the status of the product then make the appropriate operational adjustments to improve the life of the product and avoid failures.

Industry has been working hard for close to a decade to bring about a change in the concept design development phase of a new vehicle program.  With new methods to bring in efficiency with reasonable accuracy, we are now able to help customers inject innovation in their concept design development phase to enable quick architectural studies, derive variants of the same platform and truly use simulation to drive the design. 

C123 is an innovative process during the concept design phase to get mature definitions of the architecture and variants so that the overall development times can be shortened, risks reduced and help program take better informed decisions.C123 is different from the usual CAE or simulation support that is done today in that it is more of a design aid & support and hence quicker


According to Altair, benefits of C123 include high maturity early on, reduced overall development time, lower risks (or) increased security in the program and other cascading benefits downstream in the process

C123 has been implemented on several types of vehicles (viz. passenger, commercial, etc.) and have broadly seen two types of benefits.  One is on the product side and the other is on the process side.  See picture below that highlights these two broad category benefits.