Lightweighting software reduces resource use, saves energy

CAO (computer-aided optimization) and SKO (soft kill option) software was developed by Claus Mattheck at the Karlsruhe Research Centre in Germany. The CAO and SKO software works with FEM (Finite Element Model) used in engineering design. FEM is a numerical tool that breaks a component of interest into finite geometrical sections, then defines the material property of each finite element. FEM identifies areas of high stress, and shows the simulated effects of adding or removing material based on CAO and SKO. Adam Opel GmbH, a part of General Motors Engineering Europe, used mostly the SKO to make car components lightweight but still strong enough to withstand stress. An Opel engine mount designed using the software is 25 percent lighter yet 60 percent more stable than one designed using the conventional design process. The engineers also used the computer simulation to configure other body and suspension components in the car, resulting in the car weighing 30 percent less, while maintaining stability, safety, and handling.Daimler AG’s (formerly Mercedes-Benz) Bionic Car also used the CAO and SKO software to make the car lighter yet maintain its strength. In addition, the Bionic Car’s shape mimics the angular, yet highly aerodynamic boxfish.