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PRESS INFORMATION.doc PRESS INFORMATION.doc Document Transcript

  • PRESS INFORMATION Ref. NDM 778/04. Southampton, UK. September, 2004. SOFTWARE USER STORY Ford of Europe trims new vehicle design development costs and improves design work-flow with ICEM Surf. The use of ICEM Surf surface modelling, analysis and visualisation software in the design development of the all-new Ford Focus C-MAX helped Ford of Europe improve the design work-flow and cut the number of physical models required. Nowadays, all of the major automotive OEMs offer a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) or a sport utility vehicle (SUV) as a standard part of their range of cars. And Ford of Europe is no different in this respect. Until recently it offered customers who want the adaptability and flexibility that this type of vehicle can provide a choice between the Fusion 5-seat urban MPV range and the Galaxy 7-seat MPV range. Now, however, Ford customers in Europe have even more choice. In the autumn of 2003 the Ford Focus C-MAX range of mini-MPVs was introduced. From the entry-level Studio to the top-of-the-range Ultima, the all-new Ford Focus C-MAX is designed to provide the flexibility of an MPV demanded by many family car buyers today but at the price-level of a medium-size family car.
  • Each of the models in the five-door Focus C-MAX range of vehicles will carry up to five adults in comfort and style, yet with their 40/20/40 split-fold seats, which can be tipped, tumbled or removed, they can also act as flexible and surprisingly capacious load-carriers for those week-end away breaks or trips to the local recycling facility. Digital design. As with other vehicles in the Ford range, the body and interior of the Ford Focus C-MAX owe a great deal to the extensive use during their design development of the ICEM Surf surface modelling, analysis and visualisation software suite. Ford of Europe introduced ICEM Surf into its vehicle design development process some seven or eight years ago. Today the software plays a crucial role in the company’s moves towards a near-totally digital design development and verification process. ICEM Surf provides the designers and engineers at Ford Werke AG in Germany with a set of software tools that enables them to create complex, free-form surface digital models and to dynamically modify, analyse and refine them in order to arrive at the optimum surface shape, while maintaining the design intent. It also provides sophisticated real-time rendering and visualisation tools for use in the design review process, as well as a range of dynamic surface model analysis tools, such as curvature, gap, levelling, flatness, continuity and highlights analysis, among others, to enable the development of the final Class A surface data required for the vehicle body and interior manufacturing processes. Body development. For the design development of the body of the Focus C-MAX, Ford’s surfacing engineers in Cologne began with the point cloud scan data generated from a 3D scan of the full-scale clay model of the vehicle, together with the designers’ 2D sketches. The scan data and the sketches were imported into the ICEM Surf
  • environment where they were used as the basis for creating the initial digital surface model. Volker Renn, supervisor of surface development, Corporate Design at Ford Werke, explains, “The important thing about the use of ICEM Surf in the early stages of the design development process for the body of the Focus C-MAX was that it enabled us to develop the digital model in parallel with the clay model. It also enabled us to develop the surface model taking into account all of the ‘hard points’ defined by the engineering CAD model in our I-DEAS Master Series CAD/ CAM system”. “Any changes to the ICEM Surf digital model, to take account of engineering or manufacturing concerns for example, were replicated in the clay for styling verification, while changes to the clay were scanned and imported back into ICEM Surf for the digital model to be updated. So”, he points out, “the digital and clay models alternated at being in the lead.” The advantages of this ‘closed loop’ process over earlier vehicle development programmes were that, without adding to the time required, more design iterations to ensure feasibility could be undertaken, with small design changes, to take account both of engineering concerns and of the stylists’ wishes, being able to be made and verified much faster than was previously possible. Further, it also ensured that everybody - designers, surfacing engineers, detail design engineers and manufacturing engineers – always had the most up-to-date design information with which to work. With the Focus C-MAX being an entirely new vehicle, built on a new Ford platform that will also form the basis of the new Focus due for launch later in 2004, the Class A surface models for all of the vehicle’s body panels were developed in ICEM Surf from completely new designs.
  • Interior design. Being an entirely new vehicle, the interior of the Focus C-MAX was also a new design, again with ICEM Surf being used as a fundamental part of the design development process. However, here the process differed slightly from that for the vehicle’s exterior. For the major interior components, such as the instrument panel and centre console, the surfacing engineers were provided with digital design data from Ford’s styling studio. This design data had been created from the initial clay model, using another software product, as part of the cabin interior styling process. However, whilst this data provided a fairly accurate representation of the design of the instrument panel and centre console, it wasn’t of a sufficiently high quality to be useful for manufacturing purposes. The data was therefore imported into ICEM Surf, where it was re-created as a digital surface model on which the ICEM software’s dynamic surface modelling and analysis tools could then be used to refine the design. The resulting surface model data was then used in the milling of a physical model for final design approval, before it was passed on for use in the tooling development process. Meanwhile, the interior trim components, such as the hard trim for the A, B and C pillars and the head-lining etc. were designed from scratch using ICEM Surf. Here there was no clay design model to work from. The entire design development process was carried out digitally in ICEM Surf. “The reason that we opted for a totally digital process for the design and surface engineering of the interior trim components was that we had a shortage of clay modelling capacity at the time,” explains Ford Werke’s Renn. “To wait for capacity to become available would have caused delays that we couldn’t afford. As it is, however, everything went very smoothly. We used ICEM Surf to develop
  • the surface models from scratch and then used the data to mill physical models for final design approval. That cut out one stage in the usual design development process, saving us both time and costs. It also proved the ability of ICEM Surf to support a completely digital process, from blank screen to Class A surface data” Digital design verification. An important aspect of the use of ICEM Surf throughout the design development of the body and interior of the Focus C-MAX was the software’s ability to support the design verification process. Digital design verification requires a full-scale digital model of the complete vehicle and high resolution, fully textured, rendered and ray-traced photo-realistic visualisations of the model from a number of viewpoints, all of which ICEM Surf can deliver. At Ford of Europe, the verification process for the Focus C-MAX followed a clearly defined path. Using its advanced, dynamic surface modelling and analysis capabilities, ICEM Surf was first used to create the Class A surface models. During this process, the software’s facilities for flush and gap analysis and surface continuity etc. were extensively used in order to ensure the highest possible quality surface model. The digital surface models of the vehicle’s body and interior then underwent highlights analysis, using ICEM Surf’s in-built analysis tools in order to ensure that the surfaces met the designers’ visual criteria in terms of highlights and surface continuity. This was followed by more detailed, local area digital design reviews, for example where the front wing, bonnet and headlight all meet. All of this was carried out on standard desktop PCs. The surface model data was then used in the milling of physical models in hard and soft resins, before a complete interior and exterior digital surfaces review was carried out.
  • The final step was to use ICEM Surf to create photo-realistic visualisations of the whole of the vehicle’s interior and exterior, including paint and materials simulation as well as different lighting conditions. These visualisations were displayed at 1:1 scale in Ford’s virtual reality suite using its 7.3 metre x 2.5 metre, multi-channel rear projection PowerWall virtual reality display system. Although this digital design verification process enabled most of the important design decisions to be made in the virtual world, a full-scale physical reference model of the vehicle was also produced for final confirmation. As Volker Renn explains, “The use of ICEM Surf to create the virtual design reference model, as well as the Class A engineering surface data needed for manufacturing, means that we can verify the design for its appearance and quality in the digital world. It also means we can undertake early review of all model variants and support the rapid prototyping process. Nevertheless, we also believe that a final, physical model is still required in order for people to get the right ‘feel’ for the vehicle, before manufacturing commences.” Summing up the value to Ford of Europe of the use of ICEM Surf during the design development of the Focus C-MAX, Renn says, “The main benefits were that we got a more robust design model, earlier in the development process, by being able to try more options in less time. This helped us in terms of design and engineering feasibility. It also helped us to reduce our overall design costs through more digital design verification and thereby, fewer physical models.” It also enabled Ford of Europe to add the Focus C-MAX mini-MPV to its vehicles line-up on time. ENDS NMcL. 1600 words approx. (excl. heading & sub-head).