Efficient Optimization Based on FEA and CFD Simulations

Topology Optimization in the concept phase of a telehandler axle

Customer Request

The ZF Group has to follow market demand and promote the development of weight-reduced components for powertrain and chassis. In the concrete development of a new telehandler axis, in addition to a design draft, determination of the built-in space and the topological and form optimization, a FEM strength calculation based on a load determined with MKS simulation was to be undertaken. The aim here was to reduce the total production costs, optimize manufacturing and assembly, minimize material use, speed-up the complete development process and make it more reliable.

Our solution: topology optimization with Tosca Structure

Using the optimization package Tosca Structure the single components of the telehandler axle were optimized. The quality of the optimi­zation results and the potential in weight-reduction is better, the more detailed the load influence on the part in question is taken into consideration. Therefore special attention was paid to the combination of single components within the complete aggregate and the expansion to non-linear analysis (contact problems). Further, to obtain reliable and easily interpretable results, the FE-solvers available in the company were integrated. Based on a kinematic investigation to determine the design space available, a topology optimization of the single axle modules with non-linear FE models was performed. A new design was derived from the optimization results taking all boundary conditions (including manufacturing conditions) into consideration and the stiffness was shown through FEM calculations.

Benefit for the customer

ZF has been successful in integrating topology optimization conti­nuously in the existing development process and to support the design already in the conception phase. The optimization results could be directly visualized and easily reconstructed in the CAD system for further use in the development process. The use of the FE-solvers already available in the company saved time, ensured result quality and in the future offers synergy effects between different company locations. At the conclusion of the project, ZF received a 20% lighter, completely new designed axle arch of the telehandler. This also has many innovative features, which are protected by patents.

Through the smooth integration of optimization tools such as Tosca in our CAE process, we have successfully been able to make more effective use of the CAE simulation tools already used by our company for many years. This has resulted in bringing new designs more quickly and cheaply into the market.

Dr. Klaus Kelkel, Senior Manager Technical Calculations, ZF Friedrichshafen AG