If you’ve ever driven or ridden in a vehicle or visited any populated area, you will have experienced traffic congestion. The number of vehicles and drivers on the road is extremely high, and the bad news for stressed-out drivers is that this number is only expected to get higher in the coming years. In fact, industry analysts are predicting that the number of vehicle miles traveled globally will double to 20 trillion by the year 2030. While this may make most people shudder – and worry a bit more about the environment – it’s good news for automotive and tire manufacturers.
This may not be an environmental catastrophe either, as automobiles continue to move towards electrification. This change, along with the move towards autonomous vehicles, presents new challenges for most manufacturers in the industry, including tire manufacturers as the demand for their product continues to increase, along with regulations and technology pushing towards “greener” and connected tires.
Many factors need to be taken into consideration when designing a quality tire. Chief among these factors is the so-called “Magic Triangle,” which consists of wet grip, wear resistance and rolling resistance. Challenges are presented as trade-offs between these factors: wet vs. dry grip, grip vs. wear, wear vs. rolling resistance, etc. Several other variables must be considered as well, such as aerodynamic drag or noise and vibration.
Testing for these factors comes at a high cost for engineers, whose work is only complicated further by the need to predict performance in variable conditions, such as extreme high and low temperatures. For example, extremely cold temperatures can cause tires to lose air pressure, while extreme heat, at worst, carries the risk of a blowout.
SIMULIA offers a complete, integrated tire design and engineering solution that addresses all facets of the tire development process. The solution focuses on two main aspects of tire design: the green tire process, which involves the engineering of the tire before it is cured; and the cured tire process, which involves the curing of the tire. Curing is the process of applying pressure to a tire in a mold in order to give it its final shape, including tread. The two processes are tightly connected, requiring a great deal of iterations and optimization.
Once the appropriate tread is designed for the cured tire, multiple types of advanced simulations are carried out to meet the expected performance targets.
The benefits of this solution are many. The fully automated process allows for easy design space exploration with design of experiments, and enables engineers to take advantage of integrated design and simulation processes in a single environment. These simulation processes include Abaqus/XFlow co-simulation for evaluating hydroplaning performance; PowerFLOW for calculating aerodynamic drag; and Simpack and Dymola for vehicle systems dynamics. These solutions offer full digital continuity and traceability across disciplines, and engineers can benefit from more verification cycles in the same amount of time, with more confidence.
This integrated solution can reduce key tire performance evaluation time from days and weeks to mere hours. The high fidelity simulations also offer significant cost savings through virtual validation. As demand for tires increases, these reductions in time and cost are critical for manufacturers.
Vehicles as we know them are changing, becoming more efficient and environmentally friendly, with a drastic shift towards electric and autonomous automobiles. However, one thing remains the same: a vehicle, no matter how advanced, will always need tires that will last a long time and provide a safe, comfortable and quiet ride. As more miles are driven, tire engineers must not only keep up with demand for quantity, but increase quality to ensure that the tires can accommodate the extra mileage.
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