Will Siemens lead the Agoria Solar Team to the win?
Thumbs up for Belgium 2 years ago, for their 3rd place in the bi-annual Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2017. This year, a team of 19 KU Leuven students aims at even topping that achievement. As the ‘Agoria Solar Team’, they want to take the BluePoint, that’s how the successor of the previous Punch 2 is called, straight to the win. Of course, that requires some design improvements. That’s where Siemens Digital Industries Software has been instrumental. Let’s have a look how!
Siemens helped the team design their most lightweight structure ever. To do so, the aspirant engineers had to optimize all parts of the BluePoint, including the outer body, for both aerodynamics and strength, while taking into account manufacturing limitations. And it all had to happen in a race against the clock. Luckily, the Simcenter solutions portfolio by Siemens has all the necessary solutions lined up. This dramatically reduces the time it takes to go from the drawing board to results analysis. Thanks to Simcenter, the students could do way more iterations within the limited timeframe they had, and come up with a top notch design.
“To pursue improved energy efficiency, we had to start thinking of more complex shapes for all individual components, small or large,” says Robin Paenen, responsible for the BluePoint’s virtual assembly. “We had to find those that combine optimal aerodynamics with reliability.” De facto, the students were pushing the boundaries of production technologies like milling. Hence they started investigating other technologies, such as 3D printing, that allow more free form design, and require less material. “Simcenter’s topology optimization and generative design software solutions were essential during this research,” confirms Paenen.
Of course, a lightweight structure with optimal aerodynamic shape and sufficient strength is crucial for success. But building a car is much more than that. Research had to be done in various other domains as well, including mechanisms, composites, low-voltage electronics and high-voltage electrics. In total, 5 teams were involved the the development of the BluePoint, each with a focus on their specialization, but at the same time, with one eye on the bigger picture. Also in this context, Siemens played a crucial role.
“Aerodynamics experts, for example, would like to build a very small car to decrease the volume that has to be pushed through the air. But at the same time, this volume also houses all mechanical components, such as the suspension,” explains Philip Gepts, head of mechanics. In Teamcenter from Siemens, the students can bring such aspects succesfully together. “Teamcenter was essential to virtually assemble all components,” says Gepts. “The software helped us to decrease our general clearance between moving parts, which directly resulted in a smaller car."
By now, the Bluepoint is almost ready to ride. The team has recently successfully tested their vehicle in Darwin, Australia, and is currently in full preparation for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2019. Let’s hope the close collaboration the students had with Siemens will lead them to victory, competing with international teams, from October, 13th till 17th.