Using CAD and PLM software supplied by PTC, engineers at high performance automotive firm CUPRA have optimised the design and manufacturing process of vehicle components, achieving a high performance that continues to leave its mark on the racing circuits.
CUPRA, which was born in 2018, is the high performance motorsport subsidiary of Spanish automotive manufacturer SEAT. In 2021, it took part in 70 races in TCR world, continental, and national series and championships. At the same time, the brand continues its electrification strategy through its participation in Extreme E and PURE ETCR. Its goal is to contribute to the future development of this racing car and to gain knowledge about high-performance electric motors that are later applied to street cars.
From screen to reality
Being competitive on the track requires countless hours of effort and dedication to make a car fully competitive. And part of that work has to do with the process of designing and creating vehicle components.
This task, in the case of CUPRA, had a turning point in 1998, when it began working with PTC parametric software, which at that time was called Pro/ENGINEER. In fact, before its implementation, there were parts that the team could not even design, simply because of their complexity. PTC parametric software provided the capabilities they needed to evolve components much faster, as well as test their performance
“It changed the way we design,” explained Jaume Tarroja, Head of Full Vehicle Design at CUPRA Racing. “We increased our efficiency and changes were easier implement. It also reduced dramatically the parts development and lead times and increased their quality,”
An exponential evolution with PTC Creo
Initially, only the basic features included in the program were used. Along with higher requirements, more modules were added in order to make their work much more comfortable and faster when designing new components for their vehicles. “We used to design the components in 2D and then they were sent to be manufactured – with the consequent errors that could occur. Now we can view the car in 3D with all the components assembled. In fact, we can visualize the whole car on the computer screen. We can modify the car without changing its design and within a full stable environment. This has been a huge step forward for us,” said Tarroja.
While the CUPRA team take full advantage of Creo software, fours areas stand out
- Top-Down Design: A top-down design provides a skeleton model to the engineers to define the general structure of the vehicles. Related to this, engineers can design and assemble their components with the additional that, if a redesign or variation of the skeleton model takes place, these changes they are automatically implemented to all components. Since the skeleton model includes a kinematic mechanism, engineers can quickly simulate the actual motion of the vehicle to determine any interference or collision between components. For CUPRA, this is a fundamental step that saves many errors and hours of design repetitions.
- Finite element parts simulation: This option allows you to simulate the stress on the components in a real-world situation. It provides a very precise view whether the design is right along with its possible weak points.
- Sheet metal: It streamlines the creation of metal components. From the beginning, it has helped the company to achieve lighter parts, with a higher performance, better results, and economic savings.
- Piping and cabling: Enables the layout of electrical wiring and cooling to be simulated. This has been a big step forward for CUPRA; previously a prototype was modeled and delivered to the supplier, who then replicated it. Now, thanks to PTC, you can simulate everything with the computer, including the wiring system and piping, so that when the part is manufactured, everything works well at the first attempt.
- Also worthy of a mention is the parametric surface and freestyle feature, which for the CUPRA is used in component design. It allows curves and shapes of the developed parts to be molded freely. For this purpose, it uses a subdivision molding feature that provides a higher surface control and finer details without changing the existing shape.
In addition to all of these capabilities, the CUPRA roadmap includes new PTC Creo features that are due to increase its competitiveness. The new modules to be implemented include IA-controlled generative design, optimized design for additive manufacturing, and behavioral modelling. As Tarroja states, “in the mechanical components environment, PTC Creo offers us unmatched stability and precision levels.”
To complement this, CUPRA also supports the PLM Windchill software. This solution is an information management system that enables data and processes to be integrated on a cost-effective way during the whole component lifecycle from the initial idea, design, and manufacturing, up to the final maintenance of the product.
With PTC Creo we can have the component ready to manufacture within two weeks
In the case of CUPRA, this application was implemented in 2014 and provided a huge step forward for its product management. With Windchill it is possible to modify a component or a full vehicle with the certainty that the whole team will be updated instantly with a simple click to the latest version available. This reduces errors and time.
Two decades optimising the components design and manufacturing process
After more than twenty years using PTC solutions, CUPRA is very satisfied with the result. As Tarroja states, “In the competition world, you have to improve the car you made the previous year. There is a need for constant improvement with the aim of reducing manufacturing costs.”. And PTC solutions have played a key role in this process. “We have always seen that PTC design tools have evolved along with the industry, which has increased our possibilities for improvement,” he said.
This has provided additional benefits to CUPRA, some of which can be listed. For example, it has increased its effectiveness in parts design. “We are able to create the component on the computer in 3D and perform all the stress tests before manufacturing the part, so we can reduce design errors. Thus, when manufactured, the part works perfectly at the first attempt. In this way, the time to market of a new vehicle can be reduced by more than 20%,” said Tarroja.
In parallel, they have also decreased the weight of the components and the design process has been optimised. In fact, components normally have a weight optimization of around 10% without reducing their mechanical properties. This is achieved, in large part, thanks to finite element modules. Overall, this provides a cost reduction of the components of about 15%, thanks to the superior sheet-metal capabilities in Creo.
Finally, the design and manufacturing time has also been reduced. A clear example is the development of the stub axle, a high-complexity part that connects all the elements on the front axle. The effort of the CUPRA team with PTC tools has enabled the component to be improved by reducing its weight and keeping its mechanical properties with a high degree of efficiency which is unattainable without Creo software. In this way, as Tarroja explained, “Although the development time of a component changes depending on the part complexity and volume, with PTC Creo we can have the component ready to manufacture within two weeks.”
This case study article was supplied by PTC and edited for house style