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Manufacturing

Case Study:

STRUCTeam integrates DS 3D tools

Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform is helping STRUCTeam to efficiently present concepts while increasing design process efficiency, accuracy and collaborative innovation

Since carbon fibre’s invention in the 1950s, this oxidised linear molecule has become standard in many industries and is multiplying its user footprint as materials develop and prices fall. More than four times lighter than steel and 30 per cent lighter than glass fibre, carbon fibre offers so many design benefits that it will be vital to many future products.

Advanced composites provide a wide variety of options. Their qualities and strength allow them to take on new shapes that are not possible with any other material. Structures no longer need additional supports, so that previously impossible shapes and objects can be designed and manufactured.

3D technology helps to conceptualise, develop, refine and produce innovations that lead to better product experiences and a more profitable enterprise

Radek Michalik, STRUCTeam
 
UK-based company STRUCTeam has an impressive list of customers, including leading super-yacht makers, wind turbine architectural and sculpture specialists. The company’s goal is to transform carbon fibre and composite products from creative ideas to finished goods. Working directly with clients, designers, builders, material suppliers and certification bodies, STRUCTeam ensures that they all fully understand the development options that are available. This means customers can make better informed choices and decisions.

STRUCTeam technical director Radek Michalik describes some of the complexities of designing with carbon fibre and advanced composite materials. “At present, there are few standards for designing composite materials and, unlike many other materials, their physical properties can vary infinitely,” Michalik says. “We need to optimise three interdependent and often contradictory requirements: design, engineering and production. We have deployed CATIA (a component of Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Platform) and our own in-house IT environment to simplify and improve the development process.”

Wind energy and yacht building are two industries where designing with carbon fibre is pioneering better or more successful products. It now costs €1.5m per MW to generate wind energy. Blade structures account for around 20 per cent of that cost, so wind farm owners need the biggest turbines they can get to reduce investment return time.

3DEXPERIENCE technology with CATIA allows designs to be collaboratively modified and enables people to understand immediately how these changes impact the entire product lifecycle and its operating environment. It shows exactly how products will look and behave on a structural level. That makes it easier to plan production and operations, and to calculate turbine output and economics, so that clients can make more confident and informed decisions.

STRUCTeam capitalises on innovative ideas throughout the more efficient development process. This is all possible with the efficient use of 3D integrated design. “3D models realistically show how to make the best use of highly sophisticated composites materials and how to optimise their use,” Michalik says. “We can visualise and tailor laminate patterns to add strength and/or stiffness where it is needed at the digital visualisation stage. This provides us with more elegant and precise engineering solutions. It also reduces both cost and risk because we are confident that our designs will always work.”

The company makes extensive use of the Microsoft Office suite of products. Excel macros are used for iterating CATIA 3D design simulations and exchanging data between engineering tools. STRUCTeam also uses Visual Studio to develop and manage coding for its own software.

Recently, STRUCTeam concluded the structural design of the first WallyCento yacht – a new class of +30m luxury high performance yachts built to the box rule managed by Wally Class.

Sailing a 100-foot high performance boat at up to 25 knots is exhilarating, but must be coupled with stability and passenger comfort. STRUCTeam’s design and engineering skills and experience, combined with advanced design technology, enable everyone along the supply chain to fully comprehend the implications of design choices.

Once a boat is sailing, it is under significant loads. Mast compression working load is in excess of 100 metric tons. This requires the structure to be designed to carry significant internal loads. Stiffness is also a key element to be able to achieve target sailing performance.

Luxury yacht interior designers require more space below deck. This can compromise structural integrity, as well as speed and handling. CATIA ensures that customers are aware of the impact that interior space options will have on their vessel’s performance. “They can make decisions based on accurate information at an earlier stage in the process,” says Julien Sellier, engineering director at STRUCTeam. “This is a boost to innovative design because it creates more confidence, flexibility and time to try out new ideas.”

STRUCTeam collaborates with Dassault Systèmes along with its business partner Intrinsys, which provides support and training to help ensure that its ideas and innovations are incorporated into upcoming Dassault Systèmes applications.

Using 3D and STRUCTeam’s tools directly translates into maximising efficiency and reducing development time by as much as 60 per cent. That provides more time for creativity and innovation, and often helps to reduce overall cost. A preliminary yacht concept can now be developed in two to four days, instead of five to ten.

“Integrating 3D simulations into STRUCTeam’s design environment helps deliver the precision that STRUCTeam, its suppliers and customers want,” says Michalik. “Whether working on yachts, turbines, cars, building facades or a 35metre composite featured sculpture, 3D technology helps to conceptualise, develop, refine and produce innovations that lead to better product experiences and a more profitable enterprise.”

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