Ford Motor Company, in collaboration with WMG, University of Warwick, Gestamp, and GRM Consulting have developed a lightweight composite rear suspension knuckle for a C-segment vehicle with the support of Innovate UK. A combination of unique carbon fibre deployment, GRM’s advanced optimisation techniques, and a bespoke manufacturing process, have resulted in a significant weight reduction compared to the current fabricated steel component.
By combining advanced processing technology with GRM’s simulation techniques, the team has developed a design which is the first of its kind.
GRM’s task within the CLASS project was to support the design engineers through the use of advanced finite element optimisation techniques. As the design evolved from a single material part to a multi-material design, an advanced optimisation methodology was developed to provide simultaneous optimisation of all the constituent materials to deliver the lightest possible solution while meeting minimum and maximum stiffness, strength and buckling targets.
Yatish Chandra, one of the authors of this report on composites world and a composites CAE engineer, Research and Advanced Group at Ford, says ‘The CLASS project was facilitated in part by GRM’s finite element analysis (FEA) optimization, which accelerated layup schedule development. This helped identify the need for prepreg, which was selectively applied to the knuckle to resist buckling and compressive stresses. ‘
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