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 3D Image Data in CAD/CAE
Gareth James
Gareth James
Working as PR and Marketing Officer for Simpleware, with specialties in: marketing communications, social media, press, quality management, copywriting.

Image-Based Solutions for Automotive Applications

November 25th, 2015 by Gareth James
Automotive engine virtual inspection

Simpleware ScanIP software enables visualisation and inspection of automotive parts

Image-based modelling represents a fast-growing software method within automotive design and R&D. Visualisation, analysis and model generation from 3D image data (such as CT, micro-CT and SEM) enables comprehensive characterisation of components, as well as multiple inspection and file export for simulation tasks. At Simpleware we’ve developed software tools used for extensive analysis of components within the automotive industry, from metrology, reverse engineering and NDE through to human body impact.

Solutions for Automotive Metrology, Reverse Engineering and NDE

When producing computer models of automotive parts and components, CAD approaches are typically used that rely on idealised geometries; these do not fully reflect the structure of a manufactured part, and reduce accuracy for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) wanting to reverse engineer and analyse components.

With image-based techniques, researchers can easily visualise, segment, quantify and export models based on 3D scans. Our software solutions are successfully used in automotive applications to reduce the complexity associated with scan data. Users obtain volume data from a scanning modality, which is then processed in Simpleware ScanIP software to identify regions of interest, including pore networks and any part defects. Virtually inspecting image data means that problems within a part can be identified during different manufacturing phases, potentially leading to cost savings and more efficient product development.

In addition, ScanIP offers measurement and statistics tools to quantify porosity, tortuosity and other material characteristics from image data at different length scales. Information on crack sizes, lengths and distribution statistics is valuable for material characterisation and for quality assurance processes, as well as for failure analysis. Excellent results have been achieved for researchers wanting to assess part performance and system compatibility using these image-based methods.

Bridging Materials Inspection and Characterisation with Physics-Based Simulation

Manifold FE mesh

High-quality mesh of a manifold generated in Simpleware +FE module

Segmented image data can be exported from Simpleware software as NURBS files for CAD, and as very robust volume meshes for finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Proprietary techniques in Simpleware module +FE can generate simulation-ready meshes from multi-part geometries, with example applications including analysis of part durability, test part crashworthiness and safety.

These meshing techniques can be enhanced by calculating effective material properties using FE-based homogenisation methods. Homogenisation aims to approximate a complex heterogeneous material, such as a metallic alloy, with a homogeneous material whose response to external loading resembles as closely as possible that of the original material. The Simpleware Physics Modules use a built-in FE solver to calculate the response of a cuboidal sample to a sequence of boundary conditions, enabling effective material properties such as stiffness, absolute permeability and electrical conductivity to be obtained; this approach is significant for rapid analysis and characterisation of complex material samples.

Weight-Saving and Human Body Modelling

Bike caliper with lattice created in Simpleware software

Adding weight-saving lattice structure to a bike caliper in Simpleware software

As well as using image-based methods for materials characterisation and export for simulation, Simpleware software generates watertight STL files for Additive Manufacturing, including metal-based automotive parts. Moreover, tools have been created in Simpleware ScanIP that add lattice structures to a part, which reduces its weight without compromising mechanical strength. Researchers use lattices as a solution to the challenge of designing lightweight parts.

The quality of the meshes generated by Simpleware software enables realistic models to be created from anatomical data. For automotive research, human body models have been created to simulate a range of different impact and crash scenarios, and have the key advantage of being easily adapted to suit specific forms of analyses – most computational automotive models are designed for particular applications, and are ‘fixed’ for this purpose. See the Simpleware service for examples of ready-made models for simulation.

Automotive Simulation and Materials Characterisation

With image-based techniques becoming more crucial to non-destructively evaluating automotive parts, it is important for image processing software to keep track with advances in scanning modalities and simulation solvers. The methods implemented through Simpleware software are designed to handle these complex technical challenges in a fast and intuitive way.

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