Simufact Automotive Solutions

Validation and optimizing joining processes for car body construction

Simufact supports automobile manufacturers and their suppliers by offering process simulation software to validate and optimize joining processes for car body construction.

Employing our simulation solutions in the early phases of production planning accelerates the joining process validation. Time-consuming and cost-intensive conventional validation procedures (physical prototypes, tests) can be dramatically reduced.

 

 

Simufact’s mission

Provide manufacturing process simulation that:

  1. Supports our customer’s lightweight construction initiatives.
  2. Enables virtual assembly capability to help customers realize robust and cost-optimized plans.
  3. Helps customers conduct realistic simulation of the assembly in an early phase of product and process design.

Requirements of the automobile industry

Technical requirements have risen sharply in the auto industry during the past few years; the development of lighter vehicles, an increasing diversity of models, shorter model lifetimes, higher demands concerning quality, and global market coverage have become the expectation.  

The auto industry has made great efforts to achieve lightweight construction, especially in the car body, chassis, drivetrain, and exhaust system.  The focus has been centered on the use of lightweight materials, including: advanced steels, aluminums, and fiber composites. Due to this trend, joining procedures such as welding, gluing, and mechanical joining have risen in importance over the past few years.

Uncertainties regarding joining procedures play a big role in the development and optimization of production processes – especially when considering the design and sequences of manufacturing for new models.

Development of new joining procedures

Lightweight construction (Source: EJOT)

Lightweight construction “mega-trend”

Because of the “mega-trend” towards lightweight construction, joining technology has become an area of increased innovation.

To fully realize the potential of lightweight construction, the automobile industry increasingly makes use of high strength-to-weight materials (such as high strength steels, aluminum and fiber composites) for integration with conventional steel components. In order to effectively join the different materials being utilized, new and innovative joining techniques must be employed. To this end, the auto industry continually cooperates with joining system OEMs in order to optimize existing procedures and develop new ones.

Optimization of joining procedures in automobile production

Optimizing joining processes – The challenge

Manufacturing engineers have long attempted to analyze more than just the functional requirements of the joints. They must understand the effects of the joining process – feasibility, stability, and availability of required manufacturing technologies – when put into production. This is where Simufact supports the customer. Given that contemporary designs often follow the motto „the right material at the right place“, this solution will enable a further understanding of the sequencing parameters that affect a finished product’s fit and function.  Analyze advanced materials without expending physical resources.

 

Our process simulation applications: Simufact Forming and Simufact Welding

  • deliver realistic, conclusive results
  • offer support in the early identification of potential weak points
  • reduce time and cost intensive correction loops
  • ensure success in reaching qualitative and functional goals in assembly

The modeling, and subsequent simulation of joining procedures, facilitates a focused optimization of process parameters to realize specific component qualities in serial productions with narrow tolerance limits. Contemporary car bodies contain between 4,000 and 5,000 resistance spot welds with up to 400 different combinations of materials and thicknesses; for each of these combinations – including their specific coatings – engineers must determine a process workflow in order to ensure quality results. 

The prerequisite for this is a thorough understanding of each manufacturing sequence, as well as the capability to correlate process parameters to resulting product properties

 

 

Joining Optimizer

Reduce the complexity of validating self-piercing-riveting processes and test material thickness combinations with automated simulations:

Joining Optimizer

Joining Processes Optimization

Key objectives of the optimization process include:

 

Robust joining processes

Spot welding (Source: KUKA)

One of the challenges of globalization is the development of validated, and efficient, robust joining processes. Not only do locally available engineering plants and means of production play a role here, but also the global availability of materials – with consistent quality. As designs become more complex, the ability to replicate a process at multiple locations is becoming crucial.

Dimensionally accurate assemblies

Determination of gap dimensions

Narrow gap dimensions are a mark of quality in car bodyconstruction.

This poses the production challenge of producing assemblies and sub-assemblies that can be accurately repeated. A thorough understanding of the factors involved, supported by the use of joining and process simulations during the early stages, is essential to reach the required target.

 

Avoiding joint fatigue

Automobile serial production, welding robot (Source: KUKA)

Contemporary assembly process validation often involves fatigue testing; however, commonly overlooked is the fact that components exist with a manufacturing history (i.e. not as ideal state). The “memory” of components can adversely affect the fatigue of joints when assembled and put into service. Therefore, consideration of the as-manufactured properties is becoming increasingly important when conducting fatigue simulation.

Simulating joining procedures in car body construction with Simufact

  • Which thermal and mechanical joining procedures for car body constructions are covered by Simufact?
  • Which typical manufacturing process design challenges are addressed by Simufact?
  • How can you significantly reduce the effort needed to examine material thickness combinations by using automated simulations?