Generative Design for 3D Printing
The concept of generative designs has set a new paradigm in the designing and prototyping phases of automotive manufacturing. These designs are said to mimic nature’s evolutionary approach to design. In the manufacturing industry, when a component is to be made, the designers or engineers input their design goals in the generative design software. The other inputs of the software include parameters such as material properties, manufacturing methods, and cost constraints. Unlike topology optimization, the software explores all the possible permutations for a solution and accordingly provides design alternatives.
It tests a range of designs and learns from different iterations on what works and what doesn’t. The designers can fine-tune the parameters based on strict requirements, and finally select the option that fulfills all constraints.
Carbon performance is a Leeds, United Kingdom based automotive start-up, and that boasts its expertise in additive manufacturing. The company is a partner of AUTODESK’s future of British manufacturing technology promotion program and a partner of the Northern powerhouse, the UK government’s initiative to increase manufacturing activities in the northern part of the country.
As a proof of concept, the company has created a 3D printed suspension upright for the Lotus Elise sports car. (Elise is a two-seater sports car that was conceived by the British automotive manufacturer, Lotus in the year 1994) The newly developed design exploits additive manufacturing capabilities with
Aluminium, contributing to a decrease in 25% weight and improved camber stiffness. By incorporating AI, the company was able to develop generative designs. The software solution also used lattice optimisation through which it was possible to generate optimized designs for functional components. These developments have given way to the development of infilled structures leading to properties such as high strength to weight ratio.
Through the combination of generative designs and 3D printing, Carbon Performance has reduced the number of suspension upright parts from nine into one. The company has integrated QR codes and custom features into its part design. The QR codes can be linked to digital inventory entry that can be protected via Blockchain.
Based on the above example, it can be said that by incorporating other industry 4.0 technologies, the full potential of additive manufacturing can be realized. It is the amalgamation of different technologies that help with overcoming the current shortcomings of individual technologies. Rather than printing a model based on random selection of parameters within boundaries, it is better to resort to generative designs that check all possible designs that are subject to various constraints and suggests the best model be printed.
The solutions offered by Carbon Performance have found uses in SAE and Bajaj racing. Performance racing is all about lightweight and aerodynamic nature of the vehicle. The application of lattice optimisation has helped to develop lightweight structures. Through such developments, it is possible to replace metal parts with high-performance composites that offer improved performance and fuel efficiency with better aesthetics. The nature of optimized designs is that a component generally made of multiple parts can be developed as a component with fewer parts.
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