Reference project in the

Optimisation of a CFRP rear wing for British sports car

Development of a lightweight carbon composite version with very high stiffness at very low weight and sufficient strength.

Very good dimen­sional accu­racy of the rear wing and inte­gra­tion into the overall aero­dy­namic concept of the sports car led to the achieve­ment of the required perfor­mance data.

The task

German auto­mo­tive supplier commis­sioned us to develop a rear wing for the perfor­mance version of a British road­ster. This light­weight carbon version should still have suffi­cient strength with very high stiff­ness and very low weight. In addi­tion, it had to fit perfectly into the aero­dy­namic concept of this sports car to ensure overall perfor­mance. The lami­nate layup as well as any internal elements were unknown at the start of the project and were to be deter­mined by ar engi­neers.

The chal­lenges and solu­tions in detail

  • High quality require­ments for the opti­mi­sa­tion but also produc­tion plan­ning of this compo­nent, as the dimen­sional accu­racy must be very good for aero­dy­namic compo­nents that make a rele­vant contri­bu­tion to the overall perfor­mance. This is the deci­sive prereq­ui­site for achieving the high perfor­mance.
  • The overall struc­ture of the wing including the mount on the chassis must not exceed 4.5 kg.
  • The wing should also achieve a high natural frequency (above 40 Hz) to prevent the struc­ture from flut­tering.
  • This compo­nent should be designed as a hollow struc­ture made of fibre composite lami­nate.
  • The internal struc­ture and the lami­nate layup for the wing had to be deter­mined.
  • In addi­tion, it was neces­sary to with­stand high accel­er­a­tion in the event of a frontal crash.
  • As already mentioned, the weight require­ments were very high, so extreme light­weight design was neces­sary. The best stiff­ness with suffi­cient strength and minimum mass had to be found. There­fore, we chose the approach of numer­ical opti­mi­sa­tion.
  • Despite the light­weight require­ments, only a limited amount of carbon fibre could be used, as its conduc­tive prop­er­ties would inter­fere with radio trans­mit­ters /​receivers. This fact had to be taken into account during the opti­mi­sa­tion.
  • There­fore, the stacking sequence, number of layers as well as the ply type were para­me­terised, varying the layer type as well as the number of layers and the fibre orien­ta­tion and calcu­lated them in various combi­na­tions in order to find the optimum lami­nate design, among several hundreds of solu­tions. For this we used the Ansys Design Explorer with the help of our own scripts written in Python.

Our know-how

The following compe­tences at ar engi­neers led to the success of this project:

  • High exper­tise in the concep­tion and real­i­sa­tion of complex projects
  • Very good under­standing of ultra-light­weight design with CFRP /​carbon compos­ites
  • Focus on the feasi­bility of the compo­nent despite complex lami­nate layups
  • Exper­tise in numer­ical opti­mi­sa­tion with Ansys
  • Auto­mated result eval­u­a­tion in order to be able to respond quickly to changing require­ments from the customer
  • Our direct consul­ta­tion with the customer and their client enabled the project to run smoothly.

Our way

Our expe­ri­ence in handling complex projects, coupled with our light­weight design exper­tise and knowl­edge of auto­mated numer­ical opti­mi­sa­tion, helped us to meet our client’s require­ments in the best possible way, while complying with tight sched­ules and budgets.

Phillip Lohde
Devel­op­ment & Calcu­la­tion Engi­neer

Back­ground: B. Eng. Aircraft Engi­neering

Philip’s favourite project :

Cool that my compo­nent improves the driving plea­sure of a super sports car.”

Devel­oping the rear wing of a supercar was an exciting and chal­lenging task for me as I had lots of freedom to design the complex devel­op­ment process:

In the course of the project, I deter­mined the optimal layup of the fibre composite struc­ture in more than ten iter­a­tions. This task ran parallel to the further devel­op­ment of the wing geom­etry, which we also imple­mented. It was also neces­sary to take into account the inter­de­pen­den­cies of the different design tasks.

The opti­mi­sa­tion of lami­nate layups is more impor­tant than you might think. I had to consider wide range of vari­ables such as: Number of layers, posi­tion, range and orien­ta­tion. All these para­me­ters had to be set correctly and opti­mised simul­ta­ne­ously.

In addi­tion, on-going regular commu­ni­ca­tion with the customer was essen­tial as vari­ants of the compo­nent that looked good in the simu­la­tion could still cause prob­lems during produc­tion. Here, I was able to contribute my know-how in the field of produc­tion plan­ning and also develop it further through bilat­eral exchange.

The idea that customers who have paid a lot of money for this supercar have a lot of joy with the perfor­mance of their vehicle was also a reward and made me proud. Tech­ni­cally, I was attracted by the complex struc­tural opti­mi­sa­tion task combined with the ability to react to changing condi­tions within a very short time and then to transfer this design into a smooth produc­tion process. Thanks to our specialist exper­tise in the automa­tion of calcu­la­tions we were able to exploit the full poten­tial of lami­nate opti­mi­sa­tion and realise design loops in the shortest possible time.

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