Tough, Inexpensive Line Design Thanks to CAE

The new, automated CAE (Computer-Aided Engineering) design tool means that Continental is now able to make its air-conditioning lines even more robust and analyze component and assembly performance with greater precision using computer simulation.

CAE helps the engineers avoid design faults from the very outset that might otherwise only emerge during physical testing or, in the worst-case scenario, when the system is in operation with the end customer. The tool also allows individual parameters to be changed in the system under test, which means that the range of analysis options is expanded. In addition, it also saves time, and therefore costs, in product development. “CAE is gaining popularity in a large number of sectors because it transforms the technical analysis of physical tests into a virtual simulation,” declares project manager Fernando Guzman. Computer software (ANSYS & ABAQUS) simulates the performance of products and components in order to improve the designs and help with resolving design problems. The engineers start by modeling the geometry and physical properties of the model, including its environment, before launching the actual computer simulation.
 
CAE incorporates approaches from fluid dynamics, finite-element analysis (FEA) and kinematics. Continental is currently using the tool for stress and dynamic analyses of components and assemblies by means of finite-element analysis and fluid simulation analysis. Thermal and acoustic analyses are to be added as the next elements.
 
“CAE is gaining popularity in a large number of sectors because it transforms the technical analysis of physical tests into a virtual simulation,” declares CAE team leader Marius Todoran. Continuous comparisons between the physical laboratory tests and the computer simulations ensure substantial improvements are achieved in the tool’s precision and reliability. The project has now resulted in a number of synergies with automakers, as a result of which the demand for simulations has already risen significantly.