Design optimisation has now become a necessary process for generating new designs, eliminating design issues, and minimising component mass. For a long time this has been done manually, and by many design engineers it still is, but generative design programs can provide better results in a significantly reduced timescale. We deliver state-of-the-art lightweighting technologies through the intelligent use of design optimisation software. Either integrated into existing design systems or used as standalone tools, our software can help make parts smaller, lighter, and stronger, as well as cutting down on development time that would usually have been needed for manually optimising the part.
GENESIS, our flagship software product, provides the most advanced optimisation capabilities of any FE solver on the market. Its high-performance capabilities have also been integrated into the engineering analysis packages ABAQUS and ANSYS, bringing its capabilities to some of the most popular design and analysis applications on the market.
Generative design is a design process that imitates the way evolution in the natural world creates optimal structures. With the aim of either improving part performance or reducing part mass, the design is passed through the program along with some loading conditions, as well as some optimisation objectives and constraints. The program then identifies where the part needs more material, and where it can be cut down. This refined part is then handed back to the design engineers and manufacturers, who use it to create production-ready designs.
First, the design space for the optimisation is defined. This sets out the maximum space that the part can occupy while still performing its function. Then Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is set up for the key load cases. This defines the loads which the part can be expected to endure in use.
The second part of the process is the actual optimisation itself. Using the design space, the applied load cases and the optimisation objectives and constraints, the software then progresses through a generative design process, where it iterates through a number of design cycles, in order to remove any unnecessary material, leaving you with the optimal design of your part. Once this is done you have the theoretically ideal design.
However, the technically ideal design is not necessarily one that lends itself easily to manufacturing. As a result engineers and manufacturers will work together to take the optimal part design and adapt it into something that is suitable for production, whether that’s through traditional fabrication methods such as casting or machining, or newer advanced production methods such as additive manufacturing. To avoid any unintended faults this design is then passed through FEA again, ensuring it can withstand the forces it will operate under in use. This final design is significantly lighter than the initial version, using less material mass to achieve the same or even an improved level of structural integrity.
See our advanced tools for yourself at the Advanced Engineering Show, stand A3 at the NEC, Birmingham on 1st and 2nd November 2017.