GM uses new generative design tech for vehicle lightweighting
Engineers produced a proof-of-concept part, a seat bracket, that is 40 percent lighter and 20 percent stronger than the original part.
Lightweighting is becoming more and more common for automakers. The push to make vehicles lighter and more fuel efficient has many car manufacturers looking for new and innovative solutions.
General Motors has opted for a new, advanced software design technology to developing efficient and lighter alternative propulsion and zero emission vehicles.
The North American automaker is one of the first to use a new generative design software technology from Autodesk, which offers more vehicle mass reduction and parts consolidation opportunities that cannot be achieved through traditional design optimization methods.
It uses cloud computing and AI-based algorithms to rapidly explore multiple permutations of a part design, generating hundreds of high-performance, often organic-looking geometric design options based on goals and parameters set by the user, such as weight, strength, material choice, fabrication method, and more.
“When we pair the design technology with manufacturing advancements such as 3D printing, our approach to vehicle development is completely transformed and is fundamentally different to co-create with the computer in ways we simply couldn’t have imagined before,” explains GM Vice President Ken Kelzer, Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems.
For example, GM and Autodesk engineers are able to produce a proof-of-concept part, a seat bracket, that is 40 percent lighter and 20 percent stronger than the original part. It also consolidates eight different components into one 3D-printed part.
As part of a multi-year alliance focused on innovation, GM and Autodesk will collaborate on projects involving generative design, additive manufacturing, and materials science.
“Generative design is the future of manufacturing, and GM is a pioneer in using it to lightweight their future vehicles,” said Scott Reese, Autodesk Senior Vice President for Manufacturing and Construction Products. According to Reese, with generative design, GM engineers will be able to explore hundreds of ready-to-be-manufactured, high-performance design options faster than they were able to validate a single design the old way.
Since 2016, GM has launched 14 new vehicle models with a total mass reduction of more than 5,000 lbs., or more than 350 pounds per vehicle. Most of the weight reduction are a result of material and technology advancements.