“How can we maintain our competitiveness in the marketplace?” Household appliance manufacturers are constantly asking themselves this question, and all are searching for ways to enhance quality while reducing production and material costs. However, manufacturing sophistication requires significant investment in research and development. Meanwhile, it is critical that the manufacturer stay true to its brand promise.
One company wanted to enhance its competitiveness without sacrificing top-rate performance. Suzhou Samsung Electronics Co. is a joint venture that develops and produces major home appliances like refrigerators and washing machines. Certainly, there are many manufacturers producing similar products, making this an extremely competitive market. Design is a differentiator.
“Appliance manufacturers across the globe place particular emphasis on technical innovation and cost effectiveness when creating designs,” said Zhao Shouzhen, CAE Engineer at Suzhou Samsung Electronics Co. To stay competitive, Suzhou Samsung Electronics Co. wanted to change the composition of its refrigerator door cover to keep costs down. But they have encountered an issue – the door is cracking with the new material!
The refrigerator door consists of an upper and lower cover, a steel panel, an interior lining, and foam materials. The door failed to pass the physical reliability testing’s temperature cycling process due to the change in material. During the test, the temperature is initially lowered to a chilling level, then elevated to a high temperature and finally lowered to a chill point again. The crack in the middle of the door happened during the low-temperature cycle.
Once they understood the issue, the engineers sought to verify it, and find ways to modify the door cover to eliminate the design flaw. They employed products within Altair’s leading computer-aided engineering (CAE) solution, HyperWorks® – HyperMesh®, a high-performance finite element pre-processor, and RADIOSS®, a structural analysis and optimization solver.
The engineers created a computerized simulation of the refrigerator door cover temperature field using HyperMesh. The simulation was divided into two conditions: 1. a drop from room temperature to low temperature, and 2. an increase from room temperature to high temperature. In the simulation, the fracture stemmed from contraction during the low-temperature-cycle. This verified the result obtained from the physical experiment. Also, the location of the stress fracture as it appeared in the simulation was identical to the actual fracture site. Assured of good simulation results that mirror physical testing, the engineers were able to begin evaluating ways to prevent fractures by increasing the door cover thickness.
By using CAE tools for finite element analysis, Suzhou Samsung was able to clearly verify the cause of the fracture, improve strength, and evaluate different alternatives without costly trial and error. Zhao concludes, “HyperWorks was instrumental in enabling us to innovate with new materials to remain competitive while preserving our reputation for high-quality products.”
Prior to joining Altair, Molly was an Associate Professor in China, where she conducted research and taught courses with a heavy emphasis on product design and manufacturing engineering. She joined Altair in 2000 and held various engineering roles prior to assuming her current position. Molly holds a Master of Science degree in Manufacturing Engineering from Jilin University in China, and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Wayne State University in Michigan, USA.
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