Tolerance simulation has already been applied throughout the product realization loop in automotive industry to improve the product quality while reducing the product cost. However, the capability of tolerance simulation is limited by the prediction accuracy. Although tolerance simulation methods for non-rigid part are available which involve the elastic deformation during the manufacturing process, there are still difficulties while addressing large deformations and the Body In White (BIW) joining processes, which have non-linear effects. Thus, the Finite Element Method (FEM) based joining simulation raises its importance as it simulates the physical properties of parts in system and helps to digitize the manufacturing process. A proper combination of the manufacturing process simulation with the tolerance analysis contributes to the product and process optimization.

In this paper, the current statistical tolerance simulation method is improved by integrating manufacturing joining simulations. The application of the joining-simulation based tolerance analysis is illustrated with an example of a sheet metal assembly in different product development phases. As a result, The critical tolerances are identified in the digital concept phase. The initial specified part tolerances are optimized regarding the assembly deviation requirements on the product characteristics and a given scrap rate. It contributes to reduce the production cost in the prototype phase, where the stamping machines are designed. Besides, the influence of tolerance change on the assembly dimensional quality in the late production phase is evaluated.

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