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In the demanding world of engineering, where precision, safety, and efficiency converge, the importance of advanced simulation technologies cannot be overstated.


These tools are crucial for testing scenarios that are either impractical or hazardous to replicate in the real world, such as high-speed vehicular impacts or intricate fluid dynamics in aerodynamics. By allowing engineers to explore these scenarios virtually, simulation technologies significantly reduce development costs and time, while enhancing the overall safety and performance of the final products.


Across industries, from high-octane Formula 1 racing to the meticulous safety requirements of roadside infrastructure, the application of simulation tools demonstrates their versatility and critical role. These tools support engineers in rapidly iterating designs under stringent conditions, ensuring that both performance targets and regulatory requirements are met. By bridging the gap between theoretical design and practical application, simulation not only streamlines the development process but also fosters innovation, making it indispensable in modern engineering workflows.


This article delves into the transformative impact of simulation in engineering, showcasing how these technologies enable companies like Oracle Red Bull Racing, NASCAR, and roadside safety teams to achieve remarkable advancements in design and safety.


Through these examples, we illustrate the profound capability of simulation to shape the future of engineering by pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

Car Crash 4

Revolutionizing Formula 1 with Ansys LS-DYNA

In the high-stakes world of Formula 1 racing, where milliseconds can determine the winner, Oracle Red Bull Racing relies on Ansys LS-DYNA to maintain a competitive edge while ensuring the highest safety standards. Since their collaboration began in 2008, Ansys has provided the team with sophisticated simulation solutions for aerodynamics, cooling, and crash testing. These tools allow for rapid adaptations to car designs between races, optimizing both performance and compliance with stringent regulations.


The application of LS-DYNA in Oracle Red Bull Racing spans several critical areas.

  • In aerodynamics, Ansys Fluent Meshing and Fluent CFD are integral to their virtual wind tunnel operations, enabling engineers to refine car performance under varied conditions efficiently.
  • For cooling systems, simulations are vital for developing solutions that optimize the power unit’s performance within the regulatory limits.
  • Most notably, LS-DYNA's role in simulating detailed crash scenarios allows the team to enhance safety features significantly, reducing the reliance on costly and time-consuming physical tests.


These advancements have led to tangible improvements in racing outcomes and safety metrics. For example, the integration of LS-DYNA into their design processes has enabled the team to achieve quicker iterations and more reliable performance enhancements, directly contributing to their competitive successes.


As CIO Matt Cadieux puts it, “By integrating Ansys’ technology into our design processes, our team iterates aerodynamics designs much faster, giving us the edge against our competition on the track.” This strategic use of simulation technology not only boosts the team's performance but also ensures that their cars meet the rigorous safety standards required in Formula 1 racing.


Shifting Gears in NASCAR with Virtual Crash Testing

In 2019, NASCAR faced a formidable challenge: developing the Next Gen race car to meet an aggressive 2022 launch schedule amidst the unforeseen shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The closure of physical testing facilities necessitated a pivot to virtual methodologies.


Ansys LS-DYNA played a crucial role in this transition, providing NASCAR engineers with the ability to conduct extensive crash simulations in a cloud-based environment. This approach not only maintained the project's timeline but also ensured adherence to NASCAR's rigorous safety standards.


The use of LS-DYNA enabled NASCAR to perform a wide array of crash tests, including frontal, roof, and side impacts. These simulations were pivotal in iterating design changes swiftly, a necessity given the condensed timeline. An example of LS-DYNA's impact is evident in the adjustments made to the car's chassis following a simulated side impact that revealed potential safety vulnerabilities. By quickly reconfiguring the design and reassessing the modifications through subsequent simulations, the team could finalize enhancements without the delays typically associated with physical prototyping.


This virtual testing regime not only kept the Next Gen car development on schedule but also yielded significant cost savings by minimizing the need for physical prototypes and crash tests, which are both costly and time-consuming.


As John Patalak, Managing Director of Safety Engineering at NASCAR, emphasized, "Using Ansys LS-DYNA in combination with Ansys Cloud, NASCAR has been able to run crash simulations at a fraction of the time and cost of real-life crash tests."


This strategic use of advanced simulation technologies has set a new standard in the industry, demonstrating how virtual tools can effectively replace traditional testing methods to accelerate innovation and enhance safety.


Enhancing Roadside Safety with Ansys LS-DYNA at UNL

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) has leveraged Ansys LS-DYNA to address critical safety concerns in roadside infrastructure. Through a partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, researchers at UNL’s Midwest Roadside Safety Facility have focused on designing crashworthy sign supports that can withstand various impact scenarios.


By utilizing LS-DYNA for simulations, the team can explore a wide range of crash conditions, enabling them to refine their designs with an emphasis on minimizing potential injuries and fatalities.


One notable achievement through the use of LS-DYNA was the development of breakaway sign supports, designed to perform safely under impact. These supports underwent extensive simulated testing to ensure they would not penetrate vehicle cabins or cause severe injuries in crashes. The simulations allowed researchers to experiment with different materials and designs, such as varying the size and placement of posts and the configuration of sign panels, which significantly influenced the dynamics of impacts. This iterative process was crucial for optimizing the design to achieve the best balance of durability and safety.


The successful application of LS-DYNA in this project not only reduced the necessity and frequency of costly full-scale crash tests but also accelerated the certification of new sign supports for actual use.


By simulating potential improvements and validating them through virtual testing, UNL was able to implement safer roadside technology more efficiently. This work illustrates how advanced simulation tools can significantly enhance public safety and streamline the development process, bringing innovative solutions to market faster and with greater confidence.


In Summary


The diverse applications of Ansys LS-DYNA across Oracle Red Bull Racing, NASCAR, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln highlight its critical role in not only meeting but advancing industry standards for safety and performance. Through these case studies, we have seen how simulation technology not only supports existing engineering practices but actively drives innovation, setting new benchmarks in a variety of sectors. This transformation is particularly evident in how these organizations have managed to reduce development times, cut costs, and enhance safety in demonstrably effective ways.


As we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in engineering, tools like Ansys LS-DYNA are indispensable for their ability to simulate complex scenarios that would otherwise require prohibitive amounts of time and resources to test physically. For organizations looking to remain competitive and adhere to strict safety regulations, embracing these advanced simulation tools is becoming increasingly essential.

Post by MingYao Ding
April 16, 2024