Computer-aided engineering: Accelerating the development of composite automotive parts

The automotive industry is evolving at an unprecedented rate. As the industry races to keep up with the needs of autonomous vehicles, ride sharing and electric propulsion, OEMs and tier partners need engineering tools that can help them cut development time without compromising on quality or safety. They simply cannot keep up with the rapid change of pace without simulation and virtual prototyping tools.

As designers and engineers replace metal parts with parts made from lightweight thermoplastics, being able to accurately model the part’s performance is critical. The properties of injection-molded, short glass fiber–reinforced thermoplastics can vary depending on temperature, strain rate, and the orientation of the fibers.

Computer-aided engineering (CAE) enables the modeling of these new components, reducing the risks of designing and manufacturing parts made from thermoplastics, increasing confidence in the new design, and ensuring no compromises when it comes to safety, quality, cost and time to market. While there has traditionally been a lot of data and documentation available for metals, it has been more challenging to replicate the behavior of complex materials – until now. Simulations can now integrate the effects of molding processes on material properties to create complex structural Finite Element Analysis (FEA) models.

Last week, I presented about making failure predictions in short glass fiber–reinforced thermoplastics at the e-Xstream Automotive Materials Day, which took place in Detroit, April 26. An MSC company, e-Xstream develops the Digimat software, an advanced material modeling platform for reinforced plastics and composites that interfaces with all major structural FEA platforms.

Since Envalior approaches all of our material sales as a partnership, we have measured the stress-strain behavior of our materials to derive thorough input decks for the Digimat software. This enables us to work even more closely with our customers, and to identify future needs for material models, such as the effects of temperature, humidity and crash behavior. Our teams check the accuracy and robustness of our material models by using in-house testing on injection-molded parts to validate that our material models provide accurate predictions. Through this rigorous testing, we have successfully verified excellent results for stiffness, vibration frequencies, and load to failure. We have also developed new models to get good results for the fatigue performance of our materials.

As we continue to support our customers through this tremendous transformation to the era of connected vehicles, we are committed to keeping this tool up to date. This will ensure our customers are successful in projects that create new innovative parts that replace metal with thermoplastic materials.

Whether you’re new to modeling software, want to learn more, or you’ve been using it for some time, our experts are always here to help. To learn more about Digimat and Envalior’s CAE and PE solutions contact us for additional information. 

Lucien Douven

Senior Design Engineer

Published on

30 April 2018


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Lucien Douven

Senior Design Engineer

Lucien Douven is responsible for the development of advanced CAE tools, based at the Envalior Materials Center in the Netherlands. He holds a PhD degree in Mechanical engineering, from Eindhoven University of Technology.

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