Car companies are looking for every possible way to eke out a few more miles per gallon these days, some of which involve high-tech combustion, and some others involve ultra-mild hybrid systems. But one generally accepted move is to remove weight, which helps both in efficiency and performance. General Motors has revealed a new technology that may become commonplace for shaving off a few pounds here and there, and the results are pretty freaky-looking.
The technology is software from Autodesk, and what it can do is quickly create lots of different versions of a part in a short period of time. To do this, it uses basic requirements for the part including part strength, part weight, materials and manufacturing method. And with just those constraints, the software can generate some strange parts, such as the seat bracket shown above. That was a test case that started as an existing bracket made up of 8 parts. The software-developed part, which also took advantage of 3D printing, was just one single part, but was also 20 percent stronger and 40 percent lighter. It also looks like something from an alien spacecraft. In fact, it's a bit reminiscent of the 3D-printed brake calipers found on the Bugatti Chiron. See next video:
GM seat bracket designed with Autodesk software
Aside from being a benefit in internal combustion vehicles, lighter parts should also benefit electric cars for the exact same reasons. Less mass means less energy expended to move the car, which in turn means the electric car should have better range.
But beyond the objective benefits of light weight and strength, this new part is actually something that would be neat to see, not hidden under a chair. It makes us wonder about ways to implement the software to emphasize design. Perhaps the software could help develop ways to make more extreme, concept-car body shapes and styles strong enough and cheap enough to reach production. Or perhaps these organic parts could become part of a car's overall design. Maybe various support structures could be left exposed as a design element, or dressed up with translucent parts that still leave the structure visible. This technology could make for some excellent and interesting vehicles, and we'll look forward to seeing it used more.
Autoblog, JOEL STOCKSDALE
May 3rd 2018