General Motors is using sophisticated software design technology to come up with advances for lightweighting its next generation of vehicles. This technology will play a key role in GM’s development of more efficient and lighter alternative propulsion and zero emission vehicles.
GM will be the first automotive manufacturer in North America to use new Autodesk’s new generative design software technology. The software uses cloud computing and AI-based algorithms to quickly evaluate multiple permutations of a part design. Designers can generate hundreds of high-performance, often organic-looking geometric design options depending on the goals and parameters they have in mind related to choice of material, weight, strength, method of fabrication method etc. They can thus opt for the best design in a more informed manner.
Commenting on the use of this technology, GM Vice President Ken Kelzer, Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems said that the disruptive technology will contribute to significant advancements in how the company designs and develops components for its future vehicles to make them lighter and more efficient.
Kelzer said, “When we pair the design technology with manufacturing advancements such as 3D printing, our approach to vehicle development is completely transformed and is fundamentally different to co-create with the computer in ways we simply couldn’t have imagined before.”
GM is thus leading the way when it comes to the next phase of vehicle lightweighting. The new design technology will facilitate better lightweighting and parts consolidation through means which could not have been achieved through traditional design optimization methods.
GM is using this innovative technology on product designs for the future. GM worked with Autodesk engineers to apply this new technology to make a proof-of-concept part – a seat bracket – that is lighter by 40 percent and 20 percent stronger than the original part. It also made it possible to consolidate eight different components into one 3D-printed part.
GM will work closely with Autodesk over the long term on projects related to materials science, generative design and additive manufacturing. Personnel from the two companies will work together through onsite engagements to exchange ideas, learnings, and expertise. GM already has on-demand access to Autodesk’s full range of software and technical specialists.
“Generative design is the future of manufacturing, and GM is a pioneer in using it to lightweight their future vehicles,” said Scott Reese, Autodesk Senior Vice President for Manufacturing and Construction Products. “Generative technologies fundamentally change how engineering work is done because the manufacturing process is built into design options from the start. GM engineers will be able to explore hundreds of ready-to-be-manufactured, high-performance design options faster than they were able to validate a single design the old way.”
GM is at the forefront when it comes to additive manufacturing. Over the past 30 years, GM has used 3D printing to make three-dimensional parts directly from digital data. During the past decade, the company has made over 250,000 prototype parts with the help of 50 rapid prototype machines.
From 2016, GM has launched 14 new vehicle models which had a total mass reduction of more than 5,000 lbs., or more than 350 pounds per vehicle. Most of the weight reduction can be attributed to material and technology advancements. Over half of the new models reduced their weight by more than 300 pounds including the all-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado.
Lightweighting for parts which will not compromise performance as well as parts consolidation offers many advantages including the potential for more cargo space and interior space, increased range, and enhanced vehicle performance. Use of such innovative technologies will also give vehicle designers opportunities to explore designs and shapes that are not seen today.
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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