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3D Modeling & CAD for Motorsport: Design Fundamentals

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Design Fundamentals


00:00 - Fabricating or modifying critical components on a car needs to be approached with care and caution to make sure that the finished part is strong and safe.
00:08 Something like a radiator support breaking isn't the end of the world but a failed suspension arm or a weak brake caliper bracket can easily turn into a serious incident that could have major consequences.
00:20 One of the common traps most people fall into when designing parts is focusing too much on the fact that lighter equals faster without properly considering strength, stiffness and reliability.
00:33 It's always a hard balance to strike and going too far in one direction is probably going to make you slower.
00:39 Either minimally, by adding unecessary weight or substantially when a breakage sends you back to the pits.
00:45 In most instances, compromises need to be made but we need to be able to make informed decisions of exactly what compromises we're making and how far we're prepared to push the boundaries.
00:56 It's safe to assume that if you're taking this course, you're probably not applying for design jobs at top tier motorsport teams so for club level competition or street application a little extra weight in the favour of strength and stiffness is usually the smartest direction to take.
01:11 Like we discussed in the introduction section, this course isn't intended to provide you with an in depth understanding of engineering principles and a degree in mechanical engineering definitely isn't a pre requisite in order to design automotive parts with CAD software.
01:26 With that said, there are some simple concepts that once understood are going to help us avoid the common pitfalls and mistakes that we'll sometimes even see on professionally built racecars.
01:38 We've placed this section near the front of the course because it's important that you have an understanding of these base engineering concepts, design guidelines you could call them, before you start designing parts for your vehicle.
01:50 Let's start by exploring how to decide what materials and what sized materials to use.
01:56 This begins with an understanding of what forces are going to be applied to the component and what the magnitude of those forces will be, as well as what kind of corrosion resistance is required.
02:07 Again, without a pretty thorough grounding in engineering, this is going to be difficult for most of us to know but there are still some very simple steps we can take that will guide our decision making.
02:19 A good way to start getting an understanding of the requirements for a given component is to simply look at what other cars are using for the same application.
02:27 A walk around the pits at any race meeting will give you an opportunity to thoroughly examine the likes of suspension arms, uprights, wing mounts, and just about anything else you might be considering designing for your own project.
02:39 You'll quickly be able to get an idea of what diameter tube is being used, what size rod ends are suitable and even what fasteners are being utilised on cars with similar design, weight and application to your own.
02:52 You do have to be careful here because who's to say the car you're looking at hasn't suffered from poor engineering practices which is the last thing we want to drag over onto our own designs.
03:03 With enough time spent looking at how others are approaching their design though, you'll start to notice some common ways of doing things and the materials used which is going to make some of the more questionable choices out there stand out like a sore thumb.
03:15 Another way of getting an understanding of what material is best suited for a given application is to look at aftermarket components from reputable manufacturers that are already available.
03:26 Hopefully these manufacturers will have done the hard work in understanding the forces that the component will be exposed to in order to ensure their part is fit for purpose.
03:37 I'm definitely not suggesting that directly copying their product is the best way to go about it and you're probably going to want to do things a little bit differently to justify designing the part from scratch anyway.
03:48 But checking out how the aftermarket manufacturers have done things, what materials they've used, is going to give you a lot of valuable information that you can start applying to your own designs.
03:58 One of the big advantages of 3D modelling is that we can use the software to validate and optimise our design in the virtual world using finite element analysis or FEA for short.
04:10 This means that we can have the confidence that a specific design actually has the required strength for the forces that are expected.
04:18 The slight issue here is that this does require a more in depth understanding of engineering principles in order to get results that are genuinely useful.
04:26 And while we will discuss FEA in a later module, the knowledge required to make the most out of it falls outside the scope of this course.
04:34 That's not to say that it's out of reach, just that it's going to take a bit of extra reading up and some studying to make the most out of it.
04:42 Forgetting FEA for a moment, we still have a tried and true way of testing parts, physically making them and testing them on the vehicle.
04:50 While it might be tempting to design it, build it and send it on the first lap, it's important to slowly build up pace and regularly inspect the part throughout your testing session any time that something structurally important has been added or modified.

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