Ansys Software Aids Racecar Part Redesign

Pratt and Miller has used a combination of software from Safe Technology and its partner Ansys to redesign a cracked brake pedal face. The team used engineering simulation products from Ansys and fe-safe fatigue analysis software developed by Safe Technology to explore design alternatives and identify an optimal solution that strengthened the critical part without excessive weight or compromising on race performance.

The open architecture of Ansys technology combined with the advanced fatigue analysis capabilities of fe-safe software enabled Pratt and Miller to quickly identify an optimal redesign that met stringent fatigue life targets. In world-class auto racing, mechanics often modify the car's brake pedal face to comply with driver preference. Moving the pedal off centre introduces a significant twisting moment - a situation that induces stresses and can lead to material fatigue.

Pratt and Miller Engineering, a force in motorsports and high-level engineering, discovered that one of its race cars prematurely showed small cracks on the brake pedal face starting near the pivot pin, a result of custom positioning the pedal face further and further off centre. 'Simply over engineering a part is not an option in motor sports with weight being such a vital consideration,' said Gary Latham, design office manager, Pratt and Miller Engineering.

'We have to run very close to the limit on our parts because weight costs speed, lap times and ultimately the race; simulation was key to the solution in this case,' he added. For the redesign, Pratt and Miller's goal was to greatly increase the component's fatigue life without compromising on race performance.

The team parameterised the pedal's rib thickness and fillet size in a CAD package and compared the performance of various design alternatives in the Ansys Workbench environment. Ansys software was instrumental in expediting design exploration, and it identified the lightest possible design without exceeding the material limits. Fatigue analysis with fe-safe clearly showed where the component needed to be strengthened.

The fe-safe software also determined how much the stresses must be changed and how much material must be added - and where - to achieve the target design life of more than one million cycles. The new design is now in production and back on the race track. 'This is why fe-safe is so useful: it offers increased confidence that our designs are right the first time and allows us to deliver lightweight parts to a lower target fatigue life factor than our competition,' said Latham.

'The technology is now used on all Pratt and Miller's racecar suspension and frame components to optimise design by taking into account factors of stresses, show where unnecessary material can be safely reduced to save weight, or where a part needs strengthening to prevent failure before the target,' he added. The Ansys software architecture is adaptive, open and flexible, so it can operate within the broader engineering simulation ecosystem of CAD, PLM, in-house codes and other technologies.


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