Parametric Design and Optimization of an Upright of a Formula SAE car

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Virginia Tech


The success of any racing car hinges on three key factors: its speed, handling, and reliability. In a highly competitive environment where lap times are extremely tight, even slight variations in components can significantly affect performance and, consequently, lap times. At the heart of a race car's performance lies the upright—a critical component of its suspension system. The upright serves to link the suspension arms to the wheels, effectively transmitting steering and braking forces to the suspension setup. Achieving optimal performance requires finding the right balance between lightweight design and ample stiffness, crucial for maintaining precise steering geometry and overall vehicle dynamics, especially under intense loads. Furthermore, there is a need to explore the system of structural optimization and seamlessly integrate Finite Element (FE) Models into the mathematical optimization process. This thesis explores a technique for parametric structural optimization utilizing finite element analysis and response surfaces to minimize the weight of the upright. Various constraints such as frequency, stress, displacement, and fatigue are taken into consideration during this optimization process. A parametric finite element model of the upright was designed, along with the mathematical formulation of the optimization problem as a nonlinear programming problem, based on the design objectives and suspension geometry. By conducting parameter sensitivity analysis, three design variables were chosen from a pool of five, and response surfaces were constructed to represent the constraints and objective function to be used to solve the optimization problem using Sequential Quadratic Programming (SQP). To streamline the process of parameter sensitivity analysis and response surface development, a Python scripting procedure was employed to automate the finite element job analysis and results extraction. The optimized upright design resulted in overall weight reduction of 25.3% from the maximum weight design of the parameterized upright.



Parametric Design Optimization, Finite Element Analysis(FEA), Response Surface Methodology