Designing an Environmentally Friendly Luxury Electric Vehicle with Multiphysics Simulation

Luxury Electric Vehicle

Developing a luxury electric vehicle (EV) from scratch with a short deadline demands organization and access to the right technology to get the job done. Lucid Motors of Menlo Park, California, met the first challenge by putting all the engineers in one room so the structural and aerodynamics engineers would know what the battery, motor and power electronics engineers were doing, right from the start. This collaborative environment has helped them to design a unique automobile with more passenger space by reshaping the battery stack, while optimizing the electric motor, the cooling system, the aerodynamics and the battery life.

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Structural Simulation Delivers Modular Wi-Fi Towers Quickly

Wi-Fi access today seems more like a right than a privilege. But easy access to Wi-Fi is not widespread in many countries, especially in out-of-the-way rural areas where structural design and building of Wi-Fi towers can be challenging. In the interior of Brazil, only 22 percent of the people have Wi-Fi due to the costs of installing towers and the economics of providing service to sparsely populated areas. But startup Jet Towers is trying to remedy this situation using ANSYS AIM for structural simulation to design prefabricated, modular truss towers that can be installed and running within a week of purchase, instead of the normal five weeks for custom designed Wi-Fi towers.

Simulation helps design Wi-Fi towers

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The Challenges of 3D Sheet Metal Fabrication

Something you don’t read every day on the ANSYS blog are stories of how our technology helps manufacturers with 3D sheet metal fabrication. The reality is that many engineers and manufacturers use ANSYS SpaceClaim 3D technology for sheet metal design and the unfolding of problematic sheet metal bodies for punching and fabrication. MB-Technik in Neumarkt, Germany, is one such company that has built up a solid clientele with sheet metal parts, based on their unique expertise in how to punch, bend and powder coat final products. To implement complex client requirements even more rapidly, for about a year now, the company has ramped up their use of ANSYS SpaceClaim with its compelling direct modeling tools.

ANSYS-SpaceClaim-MB-Technik-sheet-metal-enclosure-finished 3D Sheet Metal FabricationFinished sheet metal enclosure fully designed and optimized in ANSYS SpaceClaim

About eleven years ago, when Thomas Markert and his partner Michael Berchtold founded their (second) joint venture MB-Technik, they knew what they were letting themselves in for.

“Clients want the impossible. And we didn’t want to get involved with the production of simple mass production parts that can be processed by any large sheet metal fabricator,” Markert says. “Clients with special requirements like demanding designs, perfect surfaces or powder coating are in good hands with us.”

The company’s core competency is the punching of parts and special components made of aluminum, steel and stainless steel sheets. Ten employees work in single-shift operation to serve the demanding clientele in industries such as automotive, aerospace and prototype manufacturing.

Getting to production faster

“As a medium-sized business, we don’t have much time for design,” Markert says. “It’s about rapidly modeling production-ready sheet metal parts from our client’s sketches or STEP files to quickly get to them onto the machines.” MB-Technik has a variety of CNC machines that punch different material types and thicknesses, and special shapes such as louvers.

“Whatever can be produced on these machines, we must be able to define with a 3-D CAD system quickly and easily,” says Markert. “That’s why I’ve kept an open eye for CAD solutions that tackle existing problems with fresh approaches.” In his search, he came across ANSYS SpaceClaim through ConWeb, an authorized ANSYS reseller in Germany. “The innovative functions in SpaceClaim get me up to speed fast, so I can take full advantage of my equipment,” he says. “With certain tasks I can finish them between 30 percent and 50 percent faster.” MB-Technik initially leased one license for these tasks because, as Markert says, “I thought this offer from ConWeb was fantastic, because this gave me enough time to really get to know the system before making my decision to purchase.” If you opt to buy the system, any money spent on lease payments goes toward the price of purchase. Meanwhile, they have been using SpaceClaim along with another CAD tool that focuses on other design aspects.

Exporting external data

Many of their clients already supply them with 3-D files. They export data to a STEP file, from which a great deal of information is removed. In Markert’s experience, many CAD systems either cannot handle the conversion or else stop running with an error message — but not ANSYS SpaceClaim. “The system is very tolerant of non-native geometry,” says Markert. “Most imported geometries are displayed correctly.” Along with this automatic translation, users can also intervene during the translation by detecting the error sources and deciding whether to remove them right away or make corrections later using direct modeling. “The system has excellent repair functions for all the usual geometry errors in files,” he says. He sees common problems such as varying thickness, incorrect corner or edge treatments or overlapping flanges.

Production preparation

Markert says the direct modeling technology of SpaceClaim lets users process and upgrade external models quickly and easily, with just a few clicks to add brackets, perform partial sections or set embossments. They simply select readymade sketches with embossments, deep drawings, punch geometries or louvers and place them on the model. They can create parametric control sketches for these patterns just as quickly – for example for keyholes, which can later be modified via radius and length.

MB-Technik often uses perforated plates, whose holes are arranged in a specific pattern. If the perforated plate needs to be enlarged, they can simply choose whether to have the holes proportionally redistributed or to keep the old coordinates. To ensure that a perforated plate with 600 three-dimensional hole geometries doesn’t take up too much computing time, SpaceClaim offers the option of showing only one hole with graphics and metadata and viewing the other ones simply as dashed lines. “This saves a tremendous amount of time for each change and each backup,” says Markert. “Before we started using SpaceClaim, this was the time when I used to have to go drink coffee.” Later, when the holes are needed during final processing, all model details output without issue.

ANSYS-SpaceClaim-MB-Technik-sheet-metal-enclosure-model-isometric-view 3D Sheet Metal FabricationFinal production model designed entirely in ANSYS SpaceClaim

More convenient options

Markert also enjoys the fact that SpaceClaim stores models, assemblies, processings, sketches and drawings in one file. “That is very convenient for transferring data. You’ve got everything together, up to date and you save time that can be used, for example, to retrace patterns,” he says. Other systems use separate files to store different data, but in SpaceClaim they are integrated with the model. Markert takes full advantage of the 2-D drawing capabilities to create partial sections, straight edges or embossing patterns to finished patterns and thus achieve results that cannot be shown with other systems. “That was one reason to buy SpaceClaim,” he says. “It works quite well.”

ANSYS-SpaceClaim-MB-Technik-sheet-metal-unfold-dimensions-3D Sheet Metal FabricationUnfolded model in ANSYS SpaceClaim. Customizable bend tables in SpaceClaim help determine bend allowance and K factor, and therefore unfold dimensions.

Bend allowance or K factor?

Depending on the material thickness and bend angle for a selected radius during the forming processes, a K factor value or bend allowance must be established (this determines the neutral axis and will have an affect on unfold lengths). Markert utilizes built-in tables with extraction values for the given parameters which give exact results with a high degree of accuracy. “An excellent solution,” says Markert. “I am also significantly faster with corrections than when I have to go over the K factor every single time. The executions, which are finally output as a DXF file for the machines, perform correctly 100 percent of the time.”

Easy entry and great value

Having experience with several CAD tools over the years, Markert is impressed with the user experience of SpaceClaim. “You get the impression the developers really worked hard to put themselves in the position of the user,” he says. “It’s important to me that development doesn’t stand still, but continues making progress with functions that are important for sheet metal processing. I have found all the necessary commands are right in front of you — no need to look for them. You can cancel any process easily by pressing a button. The program is always prompting you to do things, which really helps users navigate their way through the program.” That’s why, to this very day, Markert has never been to a training course for SpaceClaim.. He has found the tutorial videos on the website helpful, in addition to various instructional videos on YouTube. “When you see how others build a model, you quickly figure out the best approach,” Markert says. When all else fails, “the support from our reseller ConWeb is fast, reliable and competent — even if they don’t have sheet metal experts there,” he says.


ANSYS SpaceClaim includes collaborative functionality call LiveReview which lets two or more users who are geographically far apart communicate more effectively. In real time, any user can make suggestions, illustrate changes and view others contributions. It makes images further come alive to interactively collaborate this way. When MB-Technik recently invited two clients to SpaceClaim’s online LiveReview, they were both quite enthused: On the internet you can process a model together — not just view it and take notes!

Thomas Markert is just as enthusiastic about the  time savings and the outstanding cost/benefit ratio of using SpaceClaim for sheet metal fabrication: “You get the job done fast,” he concludes. “In particular, small businesses get an excellent return on their investment.”

If you are at all intrigued by MB-Technik’s story, we invite you to try ANSYS SpaceClaim for yourself and experience just how easy it is to use. You can try it right now in the cloud, or request a downloadable version.

Emirates Team New Zealand Wins the 2017 America’s Cup

From all of us at ANSYS, we want to congratulate the team of Emirates Team New Zealand who just won the 2017 America’s Cup. Wining the America’s Cup is a feat in sailsmanship, a feat in teamwork, but also a feat in engineering.

What I love during the America’s Cup season is that all of my colleagues and friends ask me about the competition as if I was an expert (Hint: as you can see on the picture, I am a more of a Sunday sailor than a high tech boat skipper). What I can talk about, however, is some of the technology behind the amazing boats that compete in the America’s Cup. Continue reading

Accelerating Multiphysics Multi-Scale Signoff at #54DAC

54th Annual DACI’m happy to announce that our team will once again be showcasing our industry-leading solutions at the 54th Annual Design Automation Conference (#54DAC) in Austin, TX. I invite you to stop by and meet with our domain experts in booth 647, from June 19-21, to learn how our industry-leading technology can help meet your SoC design challenges with production-proven solutions. Continue reading

Ideal Upfront Simulation Tool for Design Engineers

A few days ago someone asked me if ANSYS flagship products are appropriate for the “average” engineer, and more particularly design engineers doing upfront simulation. I believe the better question to ask is which ANSYS products are geared toward design engineers, and why.

More often than not, design engineers are quite familiar with 3-D modeling tools, which are the starting point of simulations in the product development process. But given their focus on product design, manufacturability, documentation, etc., they typically do not have time or prior experience required to learn how to use a fully featured simulation tool like ANSYS Mechanical or CFD. Continue reading

Solution Dependent Expressions for Fan Cooling Simulation with ANSYS AIM 18

In ANSYS AIM 18, design engineers have reason to be excited about increased functionality for fluids, structural, thermal and electromagnetics. While the foundational problem-solving functionality has existed since AIM 16, new functionality is being added in every release so AIM can better address niche applications. One such enhancement I’d like to bring to your attention is solution-dependent expressions for applications like fan cooling simulation. While this isn’t something I guarantee you’ll use in your everyday simulations, it is a powerful feature needed for certain calculations. Continue reading

Multiphysics Simulation of a Car Side Mirror with ANSYS AIM

One of the most important problems in the automotive industry is the general multiphysics simulation of coupled phenomena, where multiple — and sometimes conflicting — conditions need to be accounted for, all at the same time. One common application is the resistive heating of a car side mirror.

Designing the mechanism for keeping the mirror defrosted must also take into account the structural response of the mirror as the external environmental conditions, such as air pressure and cold temperature, cause physical stress and thermal deformation. The task is a base requirement of the automotive industry and requires a full multiphysics approach, which is still a challenge for common finite element method (FEM) simulation. In this post, we’ll show you how our engineers at SVS FEM used ANSYS AIM to model a side mirror and multiphysics analysis to solve some of its difficult design problems. Continue reading

Building Bridges Between Design Engineers and Analysts Using Engineering Simulation Software

Many companies, large and small, have individuals or groups using powerful engineering simulation software like ANSYS Mechanicalone of our flagship products. These analysts tackle some of the most complex and challenging engineering problems for their organizations.

These same companies often also have separate teams of engineers working daily on new and evolving product designs. They are often experts in CAD modeling, using CAD-embedded simulation tools to evaluate their designs. These basic simulation tools provide some useful guidance, but often fail to provide the accurate results needed to refine and optimize designs with confidence. Consequently, many design simulations must be handed off to the relatively small number of simulation analysts using trusted simulation tools like ANSYS Mechanical. Continue reading

Upfront Thermal Optimization with ANSYS AIM 17.2

Optimizing heat transfer and controlling temperatures is a critical design engineering issue for many industry applications, including heat exchangers, thermal mixing valves, exhaust manifolds and electronic devices. Accurate prediction of the temperature in both the fluid and solid components is essential to accurately predict the thermal performance of a product design. By performing upfront thermal simulation, design engineers are able to accelerate product designs, mitigate late stage design changes and reduce physical prototypes. ANSYS AIM is an easy-to-use simulation environment designed for all engineers to rapidly and confidently evaluate product performance well before design decisions are locked-in. ANSYS AIM 17.2 includes many new features for upfront thermal simulation. Continue reading