AirShaper has long been the top choice for wind tunnel testing for Onshape users. Available as a Connected Cloud App in the Onshape App Store, it offers the ability to simultaneously solve multiple problems, it’s simple to use, and provides fast results. The professional aerodynamics tool solves problems remotely using their powerful hardware, all with a fair pricing model where you pay only for what you use.
AirShaper also includesCFD optimizations. Don’t confuse that with the traditional “optimization” approach where the designer can change a parameter to solve for 10, 20, or 30 values. AirShaper goes well beyond a parameterized methodology to meet end goals like increasing downforce, maximizing lift, or reducing drag.
How important is reducing drag? Any spandex-clad cyclist can tell you the faster they go, the more important their aerodynamics gets. Professionals in the Tour de France can expend almost 80%(!) of their energy simply pushing through the air – so that spandex is starting to make a whole lot of sense. For vehicles, it's a similar story: 50% of energy at highway speeds is used to overcome air resistance!
So it goes without saying that optimizing aerodynamics can be key to improving performance, increasing fuel efficiency and sustainability. But how can these calculations be done in a time-friendly and cost-effective way?
AirShaper has developed an Aerodynamic Shape Optimization tool that revolutionizes the conventional approach to aerodynamic design. This technique leverages innovative algorithms to automatically optimize a design's shape. Watch the video below to learn how it works:
*The optimization shown in these animations is an independent study based on a 3D scan provided by A2MAC1 and is not endorsed by any OEM.
Revolutionizing the Conventional Approach
Conventional aerodynamic performance increases are gained in an iterative approach where a baseline test is run, a change made, then tested again to compare the results. Then you repeat that process. And you repeat it again, until either you’re satisfied with the improvements or you run out of time.
In the beginning, this kind of testing was done with real physical changes on clay models in wind tunnels, an immeasurably expensive and time-consuming route. Over the last decade, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has become the tool of choice amongst engineers, but even then – with a designer leveraging a HPC’s and highly efficient solver – this can still present a costly and time-consuming endeavor.
AirShaper looked to rethink this traditional iterative approach by using shape optimization algorithms.
How Does AirShaper Optimization Work?
Utilizing the adjoint optimization technique, these algorithms create accurate sensitivity maps of an object’s surface in just two simulations – instead of the thousands of tests usually required. These sensitivity maps are then used to automatically morph the shape of an object which is then re-evaluated and the process starts again. This optimization cycle automatically repeats until the shape of the object has been transformed to meet its performance targets.
This automated optimization sequence means that users no longer have to manually adjust the shape of an object before re-running simulations. Users just need to upload a 3D model, define a speed, designate a “morphing space,” set an optimization goal, and let it work its magic. And yes, “morphing space” might be the coolest term I’ve heard in a couple of years!
In the animation below, watch as the morphing space adapts to maximize downforce:
Key Industries for AirShaper’s Optimization Platform
This methodology is useful in a number of different industries, including:
Electric Vehicles – This shape optimization approach was able to reduce drag by up to 7% on already optimized designs. This improves range and reduces the required battery size and weight.
Motorcycles – Companies such as MV Agusta have used this tool to increase top speed and downforce of their motorbikes. Improving handling both on the road and on track.
Sports – Decathlon, a major sports equipment manufacturer, optimized the aerodynamics of their Van Rysel bicycle helmet.
Aviation – With the aviation sector looking to reduce carbon emissions, shape optimization is used to generate more lift for a higher payload capacity, or extended range.
AirShaper’s optimization platform allows small companies to make fast gains in aerodynamic performance without significant upfront investment, or specially trained engineers.
(Wouter Remmerie is the founder and CEO of AirShaper, developer of the online virtual wind tunnel application for Onshape.)