When designing a vehicle structure, an optimum design is desired because the structure has a significant impact on its performance. The structure impacts other components in the vehicle as well. The designing process usually involves complex iteration. Analyses must be done at the early stage of the vehicle’s development (body-in-white) to minimize the amount of parameter changes needed during the late stage of development. Successfully implementing this strategy reduces the time and cost required to develop an effective vehicle structure. A method known as Simple Structural Surfaces can be used to model the vehicle structure as several planar sheets, as well as determine the forces in each sheet. The downside of using this method is that by using it, determining the deflections in the structure is difficult. In order to eliminate this difficulty, the vehicle is modeled as several beam elements instead. In this method, a finite element method is used to numerically solve for the deflections, reaction forces, and internal loading on each element of the structure. This Simple Structural Beam model can be adapted to allow optimization of the static property of the structure bending stiffness. Dynamic properties of the vehicle structure are also examined through vibration analysis, by determining the fundamental natural frequency of the structure. Vibration also has a large impact on the structure’s performance. The goal of the research is to obtain a design that will optimize the static and dynamic properties of the vehicle’s structure. In the beam elements, the parameters involved are the length, orientation, cross-sectional area, and moment of inertia. The optimizing process is automated and determines the beam dimensions with largest stiffness to weight ratio. The fundamental natural frequency calculated must be distant from the frequency of the engine, as resonance is also a concern for structural performance. Resonance occurs when the natural frequency of the system is equal to the frequency of a connecting component. This increases the amplitude of vibration significantly and is undesirable for any structural design.

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