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Editor’s Pick: Optimize Sheet Metal Structures Efficiently

SCDear Desktop Engineering Reader:

When all is said and done, it’s about optimizing your design to be the best of all possible designs (written with apologies to Leibniz and a nod to Voltaire). Yet optimization toolsets are often not employed at engineering outfits because they are seen as difficult to justify, since you may only use it a handful of times during a new product development cycle. That justification sounds like the guy who will not repair his roof by arguing that his roof is as good as anyone’s on a sunny day. It’s really penny wise and pound foolish. Your return on investment–lighter weight yet strong and resilient parts and assemblies, material reductions and development cycles that should be shorter than expected–should be justification enough.

What inspired that saw-filled bloviation was the recent announcement of version 8.0 of the SIMULIA Tosca Structure system for non-parametric structural optimization. (You might remember Tosca as being from an outfit called FE-DESIGN. Dassault Systemes acquired that company in 2013.) It was a small announcement as far as these things go, but it is was large in significance, especially for those of you working with sheet metal in such industries as automotive, wind power and aerospace. And something I learned about SIMULIA Tosca Structure might even be larger. More on that in a second.

Tosca Structure itself is a modular system that provides functionality for topology, shape, bead and sizing optimization. It works with SIMULIA’s Abaqus FEA (finite element analysis) toolset as well as other FE solvers. Modules within the system provide support for the complete optimization workflow, help determine an optimum design, handle result post-processing and export to CAD. Durability and NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) are also offered. There’s even a morphing tool for manipulating meshes and making quick geometry changes. The big deal here is that you can leverage topology optimization to work yourself to the best design during your concept design stages rather than way later in the development cycle as had been traditional.

The key enhancement in SIMULIA Tosca Structure version 8 is a new sizing module called Tosca Structure.sizing. The gee-whiz of this module is that it opens up new avenues of topometry applications. The heart of it is that it lets you optimize sheet metal components by adjusting individual sheet thicknesses of single-layered shells. You can dive into design issues like volume, mass, displacements, reaction forces, reaction moments, natural frequencies, center of gravity and frequency response analysis results (amplitudes, phases, velocities and accelerations). Tosca Structure.sizing also offers various symmetry constraints (plane, rotational, cyclic) and link conditions. It supports clustering of shell element thicknesses for element areas with constant thickness.

Ok, now here’s the whaddya know part. Since Tosca Structure is a component within the SIMULIA portfolio of analysis systems, it is a member of the Dassault Systemes’ 3DEXPERIENCE portfolio. That portfolio strives to unite capabilities available on the V6 architecture and meld the user experience for all processes and industries, making access across disciplines like FEA, CAD and CFD (computational fluid dynamics) easier.

So now with an upcoming release of SIMULIA Tosca Structure (8.0.1) and the upcoming release of the SIMULIA Abaqus unified finite element analysis applications suite (6.13 – AP2), Dassault SIMULIA will introduce the Tosca optimization module within Abaqus/CAE toolset for FE modeling, visualization and process automation. The upshot is that Dassault SIMULIA is bringing optimization to more users. And that will pay big dividends from concept through design, analysis, deployment and even after market.

In today’s Pick of the Week write-up, you will find two images illustrating this upcoming unification. You’ll also find links to further information on SIMULIA Tosca Structure. Good stuff.

Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering

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About Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Desktop Engineering's Editor-at-Large. Contact him via de-editors@deskeng.com.