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Material evaluation software to help with vehicle design

Keywords: Tags  Steel Market Development Institute, SMDI, WorldAutoSteel, materials choices, Design Advisor software, Don Malen, University of Michigan, automotive materials Auto/Steel Partnership

LIVONIA, Mich. — New software to help vehicle designers quickly and accurately evaluate material selection trade-offs, including mass, cost and greenhouse gas emissions, has been developed by the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) and WorldAutoSteel, the automotive group of the World Steel Association.

Design Advisor was developed by Don Malen of the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering to assist automotive decision-makers in evaluating and selecting the material that best fits the requirements of a given application.

Material selection for automotive components is complicated by several factors, according to SMDI. Since material decisions for components influence the entire vehicle, Design Advisor helps engineers understand how material decisions affect numerous criteria, including vehicle mass, cost, fuel economy and environmental impact.

"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 trade-offs can be evaluated and selected," said Malen, who discussed mass changes in vehicle design during the SMDI’s Great Designs in Steel seminar May 1 in Livonia, Mich.

The software provides decision-makers with the ability to evaluate various materials at a vehicle-system level early in the design cycle, Malen said. The software is configured to operate with only the information available in the vehicle planning stage.

The mathematical models used in the Design Advisor software were drawn from the research and findings of several projects supported by SMDI, the Auto/Steel Partnership, WorldAutoSteel and U.S. Automotive Materials Partnership LLC.

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