CAE tools can be used to study the characteristics and reduce the cost of sheet metal parts that are used in products. Using an instrument panel that is used in a car as an example which is made up of sheet metal components the basic process of analyzing the components and assembly to optimize its design is discussed. The paper is mostly educational in the sense that the integrated procedures and analysis presented here can be adapted in a senior level course and at a university that has state-of-the-art CAE tools as discussed in this paper. Several tutorials have been developed that are user-friendly and show how the subsequent analysis can be conducted. To the best of the knowledge of the authors, no such tutorials exist, or are available to students at a university. To start out, solid modeling of the individual sheet metal components using different CAD programs is discussed. Then a discussion on how these solid models can be imported to different CAE programs to be meshed and then subsequently exported to high end solvers like LS-Dyna or MSC Nastran is presented. The integrated analysis that was conducted for this paper was forming analysis of the individual components, followed by modal analysis and gauge optimization of the entire instrument panel assembly. Also, a design of experiments based on Taguchi method is discussed which was done to determine the effects that the input factors have on the results of the forming simulations that were conducted. It is believed that the contents of this paper serve as an educational tool to the students and the instructors involved in understanding and/or teaching sheet metal forming simulation. Sample tutorials will be presented at the conference meeting.

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