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From the smallest detail to a digital map

TEC|BENCH, the effective tool for virtual benchmarking from TECOSIM, enables the vehicle sector to make efficient comparisons of its own development with products by leading providers on the market with comparisons seamlessly integrated into their own CAE environment. TEC|BENCH made its début ten years ago and has been further developed on a continuous basis ever since. We explain how the virtual benchmarking process works.

A virtual model (body in white) is the result of reverse engineering with TEC|BENCH.

In view of current changes in automotive development, virtual benchmarking is increasingly gaining in importance for the sector. But how does the process for virtualising and testing a specific vehicle freely available on the market work exactly?

Solid experience is already required when acquiring completely identical test vehicles. This is necessary to ensure that data remains completely standardised and traceable between individual vehicles.

Test vehicles are first subjected to vibration analyses and driving dynamics and crash tests. TECOSIM matches its portfolio of dynamic and structural tests to the TEC|BENCH client's needs on an individual basis.

After testing, experts disassemble the vehicles into their individual components and collect comprehensive data on shapes, dimensions, measurements, masses, joining technologies and connection points plus the materials and structures used. The components are retained during this process, so that they can be used for tests and precise analyses at a later stage.

The scan process begins even before disassembly commences and continues during disassembly. This produces stereophotographic images, which are created using three-dimensional data (STL). This process is also already optimised for the subsequent scope of research. Only those who know which particular data will be used for simulation at a later stage can disassemble the vehicle in a relevant way. It is also important to have thorough understanding of the joining technology used at this point.

In the next step, virtualisation experts gather all the data and use it to develop CAD surfaces with special software. The surfaces are merged into a CAE model, into which the results from the tests on the complete vehicle and its individual parts are incorporated. A specification of materials is produced at the same time, which stipulates special materials such as steels or composites, for example.

All data is now transformed into a simulation model, which is compatible with the client's development environment. The know-how for this stage is one of TECOSIM's core areas of expertise. “We not only deliver the sum of knowledge contained in the vehicle structure, but also process this knowledge to match the client's specific CAE environment,” declares Martin Westerwald, the person responsible for TEC|BENCH at TECOSIM.

The client's engineers can now run a whole series of comparison tests between their own digital prototypes and the TEC|BENCH virtualisation. These virtual benchmarks are possible right from an early development stage and can be repeated at each further step. The process thus helps to optimise development of a new product. Not only the automotive sector can benefit from this process since virtual benchmarking is also of interest for many other branches of industry, from mechanical engineering to domestic appliances, thanks to the wide scope of possible test procedures.