Design Optimization of Vehicle Structures for Crashworthiness via Equivalent Mechanism Approximations
A new method for crashworthiness optimization of vehicle structures is presented, where an early design exploration is done by the optimization of an equivalent mechanism approximating a vehicle structure. An equivalent mechanism (EM) is a network of rigid bodies connected by prismatic and revolute joints with special nonlinear springs. These springs are designed to mimic the force-displacement characteristics of thin-walled beams often found in the vehicle body structures. A computer software is implemented that allows the designer to quickly construct an equivalent mechanism model of a structure using a graphical user interface (GUI) to optimize the model for given objectives prior to final tuning using finite element (FE) models. A case study of a vehicle front substructure consisting of mid and lower rails is presented, which demonstrates that the new approach can obtain a better design with less computational resources than the direct optimization of a FE model.