Unmanned Freight Helicopter Company, Range Aero, Cuts Development Time by 40 Percent

3DEXPERIENCE Works Simulation integrated with SOLIDWORKS enables Range Aero to shorten design cycles by 30%, prototyping costs by 40%, and reduce landing gear weight by 18%.

Challenge

Develop autonomous freight helicopters—unmanned coaxial rotor-powered aircraft—for commercial and military transport quickly and cost-effectively to accelerate time to market. Leverage advanced simulation tools to analyze complex physical behaviors, thereby eliminating time-consuming and costly design and prototyping iterations.

Solution

Replace Siemens Simcenter® simulation software with SIMULIA Abaqus® advanced simulation tools for analyzing geometric, material, and contact nonlinearities in lieu of lengthy, expensive prototyping iterations.

Results

  • Shortened development time by 40 percent
  • Decreased development costs by 30 percent
  • Cut prototyping costs by 40 percent
  • Reduced weight of Jestar skid landing gear by 18 percent

RangeAero Private Limited is an India-based company that develops innovative unmanned, autonomous freight helicopters for regional commercial and military transport. Coaxial rotor-driven RangeAero helicopters are flown and controlled by ground crews. These characteristics offer many advantages for transporting smaller volumes of freight regionally, including less dependency on infrastructure and human pilots, greater operational flexibility and speed, optimal load capacity, reduced operating costs, and a smaller carbon footprint.

Designing rotor-based aircraft (rotorcraft) presents several unique engineering challenges, including complex mechanical and aerodynamic characteristics due to the interaction between the rotors, the fuselage, and the surrounding air, which can lead to unsteady aerodynamic loads that can cause undesirable vibration and noise. The structural design must also accommodate the rotor blades’ flexibility and the dynamic response of the structure to unsteady aerodynamic loads. In addition, to achieve optimum performance and efficiency, rotorcraft must be lightweight and compact—an additional huge challenge, because reducing the weight and size of a rotorcraft can affect its structural integrity, stability, and controllability.

RangeAero has used SOLIDWORKS® Premium design and analysis software for design modeling and basic linear static stress analysis. The company has also used Siemens Simcenter® simulation tools. When RangeAero needed the power of advanced nonlinear simulation tools to quickly and cost-effectively develop its products, the company replaced its Siemens tools with SIMULIA Abaqus advanced simulation, part of the 3DEXPERIENCE® Works Simulation portfolio of solutions, because Abaqus can solve all of the nonlinear problems associated with developing rotorcraft.

According to RangeAero CEO Arpit Sharma, “Using Abaqus has enabled the simulation of complex mechanical behavior, including nonlinear material behavior, geometric nonlinearities, and contact mechanics. Its integration with other software tools, specifically [SOLIDWORKS] CAD software, has also streamlined the design process, reducing the time and effort required to complete analysis tasks.”

Abaqus can simulate the behaviour of nonlinear materials, including plasticity, viscoelasticity, and damage. This is particularly useful for simulating the behaviour of materials that exhibit complex behaviour under stress, such as polymers, composites, and metals. Using Abaqus solution in the design of our complex aerospace system, the number of design iterations are reduced. In case of our first product, we achieved the product in 3 iterations and with the development time of 8 months which is 40% lesser than 5 iterations when only relying on the physical testing.

Related Resources

Facilitating Complex Simulations with Advanced Tools to Optimize Performance

With the power of Abaqus advanced simulation tools, RangeAero can simulate the effects of all of the different types of physical phenomena that affect rotorcraft performance, including nonlinear structural analysis, rotor dynamic analysis, dynamic drop simulations on landing gear, nonlinear contact analysis, and nonlinear materials (composites, carbon fiber, metal alloys, etc.) analysis, including plasticity, viscoelasticity, and fatigue analysis.

In addition, “Abaqus enables the automation of many of the tedious and time-consuming tasks involved in setting up and running simulations, such as meshing, boundary conditions, and post-processing,” Sharma adds. This has freed up time to focus on other aspects of the design process, such as optimization and validation.

Saving Time and Money and Winning the Race to Market

“Abaqus also helps identify design issues early in the process, before expensive prototypes or production runs are made. By simulating the behavior of a product before it is manufactured, potential problems are identified and corrected early, avoiding costly delays and rework. Additionally, Abaqus can help optimize the design to reduce material usage, resulting in cost savings,” Sharma notes. With Abaqus, RangeAero has substantially reduced the number of design and prototyping iterations, shortening design cycles by 30 percent, decreasing prototyping costs by 40 percent, and slashing development costs overall by 30 percent, while bringing products to market five months sooner. Using Abaqus simulation tools, RangeAero can go beyond design validation and optimize designs.

To compete in the rapidly evolving unmanned aircraft [drone] industry, companies must create an innovative quality product that’s also first to market. Sharma concludes, “It’s necessary to accelerate development and overcome engineering challenges more quickly. Abaqus simulation tools are helping RangeAero overcome these challenges, and the better we can utilize it, the more likely we will win the race to market and become a market leader.”

Learn More About 3DEXPERIENCE Works and SOLIDWORKS

Have questions about SOLIDWORKS and 3DEXPERIENCE Works Solutions?

SOLIDWORKS and 3DEXPERIENCE Works solutions enable you and your team to quickly transform new ideas into great products.