Fostering collaboration, knowledge reuse, and validating for production
Automobile design also involves cross-functional teams that must collaborate effectively and work concurrently. The right CAD solution will allow multiple engineers to work in parallel on the same project, incorporating real-time changes into existing workflows.
Giving such a wide-ranging organization early visibility of design data can reduce design iteration and facilitate smooth progression through development. Advanced design software allows multiple auto body engineers, for instance, to work in parallel on the same part file to simplify the creation and modification of complex body-in-white (BIW) panels.
Knowledge is easily captured and reused via product templates, user-defined features, and rule-based wizards for recurring tasks such as calculating stone impingement, tire envelopes, and hinge locations. In addition, template parts promote concurrent engineering "best practices" by enabling body engineers to replace class-A surface data (typically used to construct BIW panels) with the latest surface revision, and the associated BIW panel geometry updates accordingly.
Now digital sculptors can readily accommodate change, affording designers freedom to rapidly explore concepts and iterate themes by harnessing the power of feature-based parametric modeling; and deliver it in a serviceable fashion providing flexibility for digital sculptors to work explicitly or feature-based “on-demand.”
Validating for production
Throughout the development of the vehicle, geometry must be continuously validated to ensure that requirements are satisfied without compromising aesthetic integrity or other consumer-related design specifications. CAD software for auto design must include comprehensive visualization and validation diagnostics that can be used throughout the development process.
During design creation, for example, curvature graphs as well as highlight and reflection lines allow the designer to quickly analyze surface aesthetic properties. Animations, renderings, and digital models allow rapid appraisals of optical appearance, color and trim, cubing, and formal design reviews.
With ever-greater emphasis on perceived quality, real-time rendering realism is imperative for validating designs for production. Advanced design software leverages global illumination (high dynamic range, image-based lighting, and reflections), soft shadows, inter-object shadows, ambient occlusion, multi-layer paint materials, and realistic environment scenes.
Henry Ford’s actual quote states: “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black,” and while it sounds outlandish today to disregard the consumer to that extent, he was incredibly successful. By 1918, half of all cars in America were Model T's. Now, with so many automakers and so many market niches, that kind of market share is unthinkable.
Today’s automaker faces challenges early car companies might not have imagined, and they are solving them using technology that was previously inconceivable. We may never be able to give the consumer “anything they want” but thanks to the state-of-the-art in CAD software today, automakers can incorporate the voice-of-the-customer to create a variety of models that give most consumers everything they asked for.
Paul Brown is senior marketing director for NX (formerly Unigraphics NX software suite) at Siemens PLM Software.
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