1996-02-01

Simultaneous Engineering of Aluminum Castings for Chassis Components 960545

The application of Computer-Aided Engineering is accelerating product design, process design, and prototype development for conversion of suspension steel fabrications to aluminum castings. Development cycle-time reduction is achieved by sharing a consistent CAE model among the system designers, component designers, and process development engineers.
The CAE tools being utilized include Solid Modeling tools for geometry definition and manipulation, linear FEA for evaluating strength and stiffness, and non-linear heat-transfer for modeling the casting solidification. One of the major breakthroughs in cycle-time reduction for the CAE efforts is the utilization of automatic mesh-generation technology.
The component geometry is simultaneously developed by product and casting engineers, so that the manufacturability issues are addressed up-front. Preliminary stress and solidification FEA are conducted in parallel to generate a more optimal geometry. This same geometric model is later used to create Laminated Object Model (LOM) Rapid prototypes. The tooling for the prototype sand-castings is produced from the LOM.
Early prototypes are produced as sand-castings, allowing shortest possible lead-times, and permitting the maximum possible time for design optimization through Finite Element Analysis.
Examples of successful aluminum conversions, and the tools and technologies enabling these successes, as well as lessons learned are presented.

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