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How Computers Help To Design Automobiles?

Global competition in the automotive industry demands for a quality product within a limited time period. Computer Aided Design(CAD) and Computer Aided Engineering(CAE) have drastically accelerated the process of product development which involves concept, prototype, validation and testing. Every automobile manufacture  across the globe, which includes 2 -wheeler, 3 -wheeler , 4- wheeler, trucks, buses, construction equipment vehicles, defense vehicles and off-road vehicles- all of them have to go through CAD and CAE. Motorsports is hugely dependent on computer simulations as they have very short period of time to come up with a better vehicle to race.

Computer Aided Design involves working with vehicle and component design on design software where we can go for solid modeling, surface modeling, assembly of parts and most importantly rendering of the complete vehicle. Computer Aided Engineering is to analyze the designed vehicle or its components through virtual simulations before going to real time testing. Through CAD and CAE, a designer can go for quick changes in the vehicle or component design which results in shorter product development stage.

CAD plays an important in role in getting the feel of the vehicle by looking at it virtually on computers. It allows to provide the dimensions depending on the vehicle category and also  basic know how of cabin space and ergonomics can be understood. CAD drawings provide an ease of manufacturing through CNC (Computer numerical Control) machines where the files are fed in the form of a code through CAD and the final product is obtained.

In automobiles, almost all the areas are virtually simulated using CAE and tested before finally going for production. We would cover some important areas where computer simulation plays an important role.


Aerodynamic Simulation
Aerodynamic Simulation

We need to know that when we are driving a vehicle, we are going through a wall of air which is actually resisting our vehicles motion. The engine spends more fuel to overcome this resistance which directly effects the fuel economy. A computer simulation of air flow over the vehicle is done to finalize the exterior shape of the vehicle. These simulations helps us to change the design on computers very easily and reduces lot of cost involved in practical wind tunnel testing. In real time wind tunnel tests, the vehicle is placed in a big tunnel and air is allowed to flow over it. In order to visualize the air motion, smoke is dispersed in the medium. Various sensors are mounted on the vehicle body for obtaining the results.


Vehicle Dynamics Simulation
Vehicle Dynamics Simulation

Vehicle dynamics plays an important role in ride and handling. Computer simulations help to understand how the complete vehicle will behave during conditions like  rough roads, lane change, acceleration, braking and steering. Thus before going to the prototype fabrication, a complete vehicle behavior can be evaluated and a better prototype is manufactured. Also component level simulation like shock absorber durability are also performed.

Engine Simulations:

Engine Simulation
Engine Simulation

Engine manufacturers use simulations to refine engine in terms of power, fuel economy and emissions. There are many parameters to be controlled while operating engines. The simulations helps to optimize all these parameters and finally obtain a desired engine. Various engine simulations include air-fuel mixing, structural durability test of whole engine and components like crankshaft, connecting rods, thermal analysis and emission prediction. Engine modifications are done on computers for obtaining desired results.

Vehicle Safety:

Frontal Crash Simulation
Frontal Crash Simulation

Vehicle safety assurance for the customers play an important role in the business of the vehicle. In order to make a vehicle safe, car manufacturers use simulation tools for crash analysis, air bag activation and vehicle structure simulation. All these tests in reality would cause a huge amount of cost and time whereas through computer simulations the desired design can be achieved very easily. Crash test requires setting up of high speed cameras, bright lights, human dummy model and its testing and installation of all sensors. This takes a lot of money and time. Simulations are used to obtain an initial better design and then testing it for further optimization.

Production plant simulations:

Design of production plant is crucial from the business point of view. Every manufacturer desires to have maximum production based on demand. In order to achieve it, various simulations are run during plant design and lay out stage. It involves assembly line design, supply chain, worker ergonomics, free space for transport and testing zone. All these are simulated on computers to achieve maximum efficiency in  production.

Bottom Line:

The extensive use of computer for design and analysis has led to cost effective and better quality pro. Today, the scope of simulation is vast and is going to grow in the near future. This will also result in development of new and efficient technologies in automobiles.

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