18 April 2022
Innovation is expensive and involves risk. Designing a product that has no comparison on the market is similar to groping around in the darkness to find a light switch. It often requires a lot of iterations, tests, and prototyping.
It is risky to go through the entire product development process and contact suppliers to produce parts and prototypes (not to mention all the time it takes to receive the components, assemble the parts, and test them) only to discover that there are design errors and you have to go back to the drawing board and start over.
However, with numerical simulations, companies can reduce the risk associated with new product development and shorten design time while validating the expected performance and uncovering potential issues.
This is how Creaform Engineering was able to optimize the performance of the Tero product by addressing key aspects of the process, such as the cycle time, odor control, and structural resistance. Using the most advanced numerical simulation software solutions in the industry, Creaform’s experts in finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) were able to perform structural, thermal, and fluid dynamics analyses with brio.
Finding the Perfect Balance
Following the industrial design phase, Tero asked Creaform Engineering to look into all of the functional elements of product development, from the mechanical aspect to electrical and electronic engineering.
In order to determine the perfect balance, Creaform’s engineers numerically simulated the airflow through the machine. They had to figure out how the energy supplied to the system could be used to dry the mixture and trap air in the filter optimally.
Virtual Testing Laboratory
Numerical simulations enabled Creaform’s experts to predict the airflow in the product in order to manage and optimize its energy consumption and efficiency. FEA and CFD simulations also allowed them to mathematically model physical problems such as material resistance and fatigue, behavior over time, and risk of wearing or breaking.
Using the latest CFD software, Creaform’s engineers solved equations of heat transfer and momentum conservation. With their expertise, they found solutions to reduce load loss to a minimum and, thus, streamline the energy usage of the Tero device towards its most critical process. They also succeeded in reducing cycle time—i.e., minimizing the operating time while limiting the fan power to keep the device quiet.
Thanks to numerical simulations, Creaform Engineering was able to improve the product, ultimately developing an optimal solution that met the required parameters. The engineers’ expertise in fluid mechanics and heat transfer added to the benefits of CFD was highly valuable for Tero. Indeed, the time allocated to product development, as well as the performance of the device, was notably improved.
The structural analysis process helped the team to select material that had better heat and fatigue resistance. Parts were modeled and analyzed to identify the potential risk of breakage during operations. Moreover, engineers were able to determine the temperature that each part could withstand and the stresses they could undergo in order to estimate their normal period of use.
Once the specifications were defined, the engineers also created finite elements—i.e., small cells that can be studied independently. The robustness of a complete part is complex to calculate, but simple, decomposed cells, with their own properties, are easier to evaluate.
It happens that some of the parts produced overseas do not have their properties listed, resulting in unexpected device behavior. Engineers solved these issues with more detailed analyses in order to limit premature wear that could have occurred due to amalgamations of plastic molded parts and mechanical components.
Confidence in Product Reliability
Small adjustments were made toward the end of the Tero project to increase the resistance of some parts and ensure the reliability of the final product. Some materials were changed, and some walls were thickened to ensure better performance.
Because materials weaken over time through repeated cycling, the structural analysis also helped to predict the behavior and fatigue of polymeric and metallic materials. By numerically analyzing the device’s operations when subjected to material limitations, simulations made it unnecessary to perform 100,000 actual operating cycles.
Countless Virtual Prototypes
Through numerical simulations, engineers simulated behaviors difficult to reproduce in physical testing because of their hazardous, expensive, or time-consuming nature. As a result, Creaform could proceed with more tests, replace some physical tests, and, above all, guide and direct the physical tests from the start of development.
In short, thanks to numerical simulations, Tero accelerated both its development process and time to market.
Why Choose Creaform Engineering for CFD and FEA Simulations
Admittedly, CFD and FEA simulations are difficult to access and expensive, but with a team like Creaform Engineering, Tero did not have to develop the knowledge and skills internally, nor did the company have to purchase and maintain expensive simulation software and the powerful computers it requires.
The choice was sound because the Creaform Engineering team not only has the expertise in CFD and FEA, but also the experience, as they already had developed hundreds of products. In just a few months, they completed the product development and testing, achieved the desired product performance, and met the certification standards. Mass production was ready to begin.
Durable Product Used with Pleasure and Confidence
Numerical simulations allowed the design to be explored beyond what was possible in physical testing. Since numerical models are intrinsically instrumented and feed on their measurements, they continually gain in precision, targeting the main issues that must be iterated in order to optimize the product.
Thus, the virtual laboratory offered by numerical simulations enabled Creaform’s consulting team to quickly test variations in design and their impact on the device’s performance. They were able, among other things, to optimize the air passage time through the filter to eliminate odors and optimize the airflow and heat distribution to maximize drying efficiency.
The achieved level of performance and quality makes the Tero device a reliable and robust product that people will use with pleasure and confidence for a long time.