Reducing the weight of an aircraft lighting pod while ‘keeping an eye’ on the vibrational characteristics of new component designs with DesignSpace.
When it comes to designing aircraft lighting components, the Lighting Systems Division of BFGoodrich Aerospace, located in Oldsmar, Florida, utilizes DesignSpace to optimize their designs for structural integrity. “Overall, DesignSpace is helping our business by reducing our design cycle time, as well as reducing our upfront testing costs through it’s ease of use” said Anish V. Patel, senior mechanical engineer with the Lighting Systems Division.
When it comes to designing aircraft lighting components, the Lighting Systems Division of BFGoodrich Aerospace, located Patel and his group are responsible for the design and fabrication of interior and exterior lighting products for the aircraft industry. Providing the lightest, strongest, and highest quality components gives BFGoodrich a competitive advantage in the aerospace industry. The Lighting Systems Division relies on DesignSpace to help them keep this advantage and stay ahead of the competition.
Prior to using DesignSpace, the Lighting Systems Division did not utilize analytical software for simulating mechanical design performance. The company would perform their upfront design analysis using paper and pencil with theoretical or closed form solutions out of engineering texts such as Roark & Young, stereo lithography, and the fabrication of physical prototypes.
Patel knew that mechanical simulation tools could help his group and evaluated several FEA packages. “We chose DesignSpace from ANSYS, Inc. because of its ease-of-use and associatively with the division’s CAD system. We thoroughly evaluated other products like COSMOS, MSC/InCheck, and FEMAP for NASTRAN, but felt DesignSpace was the best product for helping us easily analyze our mechanical components for stress and vibration issues early in our design process”.
“Time consumption and costs inherent in building prototypes are significant. DesignSpace gives us greater confidence in our designs so we don’t have to do extensive and expensive reliability testing. We can shorten the testing cycles with confidence knowing we’ve performed some analytical processing before a part is cut. DesignSpace has reduced our design and development cycle by 25 percent. We are seeing a definite decrease in design and development costs. The software has produced schedule and material savings as well as a reduction in prototyping on the components themselves,” said Patel.
The Lighting Systems Division has used DesignSpace on multiple projects for the design and simulation of exterior lights, housings, mounting hardware, brackets, and mechanical components. The first project they used DesignSpace on was an aircraft light housing. The project was to design the housing to minimize weight and accommodate the extensive vibration loading seen in a particular mounting location. “DesignSpace helped us reduce the component weight by over 40 percent, and gave us confidence that the part was structurally sound. Weight reduction is important for aircraft component design because lighter parts save our customers on fuel costs.” For engineering analysis of the light housing, Patel performed three mechanical simulations using DesignSpace. Each study gave Patel greater confidence as he optimized the housing. “I even ran a couple of farfetched simulations playing around with creative ideas and having fun with DesignSpace. You can sit back and design on the fly; it’s really nice. Before DesignSpace, we would overdesign components, which added cost to the part,” he said.
The Lighting Systems Division likes the features and capabilities of DesignSpace, especially the user interface, because it’s easy to adapt to and understand. They also like DesignSpace’s ability to integrate stress, vibration, and thermal simulations in the DesignSpace Explorer environment, as well as its CAD associativity and ability to save various models for quick answer updating.
“There was an analytical void for a long time. My company’s management is happy with our purchase decision. They’ve only heard good things about DesignSpace. I’m glad we invested in DesignSpace. You can quickly develop a concept, try a ‘what-if?’ or quick evaluation, and know if you’re in the ballpark or if you need to punt and start again. I’m absolutely planning on using DesignSpace on future projects. We’ve already started to apply it to printed circuit (PC) boards to test for vibration failure or excessive deflection caused by vibration to keep from harming electronics mounted to the PC boards.”