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New Design Tool Aids Comparison of Automotive Materials

Design Software

Software enables engineers to compare mass, cost, and emissions impacts of various materials

Material selection for automotive components is a complicated process that requires engineers to compare the impacts of different materials on vehicle performance and evaluate the tradeoffs of using one material versus another. The ability to quickly and accurately evaluate these tradeoffs--especially those involving vehicle mass, cost, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions--is essential. Design Advisor software, a new design tool developed by Dr. Don Malen of the University of Michigan's College of Engineering, is said to make this process easier by helping engineers understand how material decisions can affect vehicle mass, cost, fuel economy, environmental impact, and other criteria.

"Since these criteria are not easily combined as a single objective number, the decision maker must be presented with potential effects on mass, cost, and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, so appropriate tradeoffs can be evaluated and selected," said Malen in a news release. "The Design Advisor software provides decision makers with the ability to evaluate various materials at a vehicle system level."

Design Advisor software is configured to operate with only the information available in the vehicle planning stage because material decisions are often made early in the vehicle design cycle. The mathematical models used in the software draw from the research and findings of several projects supported by the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute; the Auto/Steel Partnership; WorldAutoSteel; and United States Automotive Materials Partnership LLC.

A complete version of the Design Advisor software, along with a user guide and case study examples demonstrating the software's functionality and use, can be downloaded at www.worldautosteel.org.

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