Designing electric vehicles in CAD presents several advantages over designing traditional internal combustion engines. These include:
Gasoline shortages, higher fuel costs, and environmental concerns have led to higher interests in electrification for automobiles, aircraft, underwater vehicles, and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). Advances in battery technology have extended the range of electric vehicles to make them a viable alternative to traditional engines. These factors have resulted in more companies exploring the design of electric vehicles.
I first worked on electric vehicles with Amazon Prime Air in 2014. It was significantly different from my time at Boeing or Lockheed Martin, where we had design manuals developed over decades and previous product lines to guide us in new designs. With electric vehicles didn’t have those advantages.
“Think outside the box” is a cliché, but sometimes you don’t even have a box. So, how do you design a new electric vehicle? Here’s one approach.
Let’s look at using computer-aided design (CAD) tools, techniques, and processes in a framework for electric vehicle design.
Decompose requirements into design specifications. Product development begins with requirements. For electric vehicles, these include mission, range, capacity, operating conditions, reliability, and more. We decompose top-level requirements into subsystem requirements and then into design specifications. We translate requirements into numerical values like weight, volume, lengths, charge, power, and current. Tools like Mathcad and relations in Creo Parametric assist in this step via engineering calculations.
Use Top-Down Design techniques. Batteries are the heart of any electric vehicle. You might start by laying out space claims for their volumes and the other major components. In an automobile, this includes the motor, transmission, converter, and charging system. In a drone, we have motors, propellers, avionics, and sensors. We can then design the vehicle’s structure.
Create the vehicle’s shape with surfacing tools. Composite materials, 3D printing, and advances in manufacturing allow us to create vehicles that are more aerodynamic, ergonomic, and aesthetically pleasing than the geometry of traditional vehicles. To design the vehicle outer mold line (OML), we can use:
Connect the batteries to the components they drive with 3D cabling harnesses. We can map out our network with block diagrams, circuit diagrams, and wiring diagrams in 2D with applications like Creo Schematics. Then we can use these logical references to drive the routing of our cable harnesses in our 3D assembly model.
Populate your vehicle assembly. In addition to standard 3D part models, we can create components using:
CAD tools accelerate and simplify the design process for electrification.
Deloitte estimates a 29% compound annual growth rate for electric cars over the rest of the decade. The UAV market is expected to have a 16.4% growth rate by 2026. The market and demand for electrification provide enormous opportunities for product development organizations.
Are you interested in taking advantage of these trends to help your company’s market share? To find out more about how Creo can support your electric vehicle design, visit www.ptc.com/creo.
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