Research & development
The ultimate goal when using ‘smart software’ is to create a better design.
In our engineering environment, different software tools are used for individual objectives, such as creating a production drawing (CAD software) or analyzing the strength of a structure (FEM software). These two types of software are relatively common, but more tools are needed, such as stability software, hydrodynamic software, or CFD software. We always look for ways to optimize the design process across all our tools.
If different software packages are coupled, some of the design processes can be automated to become more efficient. The next step is to also automatically generate the input for these software applications. This is done by making use of smart algorithms. What is absolutely essential in this way of designing is to define the desired output as best as possible, the so-called design goal.
Topology design is a method that optimizes material layout within a given so-called design space, for a given set of loads, boundary conditions, and constraints to maximize the performance of the system. In most cases, this is used for the minimization of the weight. It is a type of software that is very well suited in combination with additive manufacturing production methods (3D printing) since the outcome is a freeform object which is hard to produce with more traditional types of production.
At Vuyk we are able to make the translation from a fully free-formed object into a ready-for-production object suiting the production capabilities accepted in our markets. These are usually welded constructions, castings, forged products, or a combination of these three aforementioned methods. As an example of this process, the optimization (aimed at weight reduction) of a lifting tool is shown. The starting point is lifting tool ‘as is’, step 1 of the process. The next step (step 2) is to create a so-called design space. This is a physical space that defines where material can be added and where not. In this model, the boundary conditions are implemented(forces, material properties, constraints). When this is ready the topology software is put to use, which will result in a first rough model for the new object (step 3).
The next step (step 4) is to transfer this model into a design that can be produced using the most likely production method, in this case, a welded construction. A final FEM analysis in step 5 is done to check if the new construction is meeting the desired criteria. The result is an optimized construction with reduced weight. In general, weight reduction between 5% and 15% can be achieved, depending on the individual starting points.