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.

Philip 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.

Would you like to achieve your goals more easily with us?

You are welcome to discuss your challenges in lightweight design with us without obligation. Make an appointment today. We look forward to talking with you.

Interested in lightweight engineering news?

Interested in regular news on the topic of innovative lightweight solutions? Then register here for the newsletter „lightly made”.