06 Aug Multiphysics? Joining disciplines to design parts
Complex technologies are forcing automotive engineers to work in areas outside their fields of expertise. A mechanical engineer, for instance, can be called upon to use electronics, fluid dynamics and other fields to design auto parts such as motor mounts.
Sandeep Sovani, 43, manager of automotive industry at Ansys Inc., a provider of simulation software that helps engineers work with various disciplines, talked about the trend with Staff Reporter Richard Truett.
Q: The term multiphysics is heard more and more. What does it mean?
A: If you think of automotive engineering’s many disciplines — structural design, electrical design, fluid design, chemistry, etc. — those are different parts of physics. When we go through school, engineers specialize. There are different people who look at the structure, who look at fluids, who look at electromagnets. That is single physics. That’s been the culture of automotive engineering. And that has been OK until now.
Now what we are seeing with complex systems is the intersection of two physics, where often times it’s a gray area, where engineers from one discipline are not good at working in another area. And that’s where things can go bad. It can lead to a poorly designed product.
What is an example of a component design that required multiphysics expertise?
Ford’s new hydromounts [anti-vibration parts that use a combination of liquid and rubber damping]. That’s a classic example. It is a complex structural problem, because the rubber is deforming, and inside that there is a dampening liquid. The force of the liquid [presses] against the shape of the structure, and so those two aspects have to be designed together to exploit the best opportunities for that product.