The stabilizer bar link couples via rubber bearings the tie rod and the stabilizer bar of the front axle. Due to changes to the front axle the existing coupling link no longer fulfilled stiffness requirements. The problem shows up consistently in both test and simulation. The stresses in the breaking point had to be reduced by at least 25% without major changes to the component geometry.
Changing the corner radius of the coupling did not lead to desired results, therefore a shape optimization with Tosca Structure.shape was carried out. The minimization of the maximum stress was formulated as optimization target. Boundary surfaces were used to restrict the change in component geometry.
As result of the optimization a free-form geometry was derived, which lead to a stress reduction of 30% in the critical area. This significant improvement is mostly due to the stress-optimized contour which cannot be achieved using a simple parameter optimization. The optimized structure fulfilled all stiffness requirements for all relevant load case situations. Thus the first CAD draft already formed a very good design basis in which only the material required for the functionality was used. By a subsequent shape optimization based on a nonlinear FE analysis, the plastic strain has been reduced significantly and thus ensured the stability of the component. Through this automated approach valuable time could be saved and at the same time the full potential with minimum weight could be exploited.