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CAE cuts development time and vessel weight of racing catamaran

Bristol-based Team Invictus, a dedicated group of Airbus engineers and professional sailors, is using Altair Engineering's HyperWorks to minimise development time and overall weight for its bespoke racing catamaran. The team is scheduled to enter the vessel for the International C-class Catamaran Challenge (I4C) at the New York Yacht Club later this year, a competition not won by a British team for almost 40 years.

One example of how Team Invictus used HyperWorks' optimisation solution, OptiStruct, for optimised component design is the development of a new, lightweight mast fitting. The component, a cone at the base of the wingsail, undergoes extremely heavy loading during use. Team Invictus used OptiStruct's topology optimisation module to automatically identify the ideal location for structural material that would meet all required performance criteria. The cone was then manufactured from titanium powder using laser sintering, the first use of this process for a structural component within Airbus.

'The design of the cone was a real challenge for us, since it is heavily loaded but needed to remain light and simple to manufacture. It's one of the most important parts of the boat, and we cannot afford any breakages there,' said Julien Chaussee, future project engineer at Airbus and a member of Team Invictus. 'Having access to the Altair HyperWorks suite via Airbus, we were able to apply the experience gathered in our day-to-day work to shorten the development cycle. The topology optimisation took only a couple of hours to run from setup to final results. Combined with the highly innovative manufacturing process available to us, thanks to Airbus and EADS Innovation Works, it allowed us to obtain a complete solution from design to assembly in a matter of days, rather than months.'

With the HyperWorks suite proving to be a highly successful solution for Team Invictus, the optimisation technology will be used more aggressively as the final design of the catamaran takes shape.

'It is exciting to see the HyperWorks suite being implemented by Airbus engineers on this ambitious project,' said Maurice Linscott, regional director of Altair UK. 'The drive to reduce the weight of aircraft through optimisation and the integration of more composite materials draws many parallels with the business drivers affecting our clients in the boat and yacht manufacturing industries worldwide. Team Invictus has the engineering experience, along with the best simulation tools available to make its bid for the I4C a success. I would like to wish the team members the best of luck in this and future races.'


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