In a bid to further boost the performance and alluring design of the BAC Mono, British supercar manufacturer Briggs Automotive Company (BAC) collaborated with Autodesk to apply generative design methods to its design and manufacturing process. Today, BAC proudly unveils the new generation BAC Mono.
The stunning new supercar is lighter (570 kg or 1,265 lbs) than its predecessor, boasts a higher performance figure of 332bhp from its turbocharged engine and over 400Nm of torque. Each body panel features graphene-enhanced carbon fiber, reducing the weight of the car while enhancing the strength of the material.
Autodesk has worked with BAC in the past, so it was exciting to get back into the driving seat to join forces on the latest generation BAC Mono.
Together, BAC and the Autodesk Research team focused on how generative design could be applied to the wheel, concentrating on the benefits of faster time-to-design, lightweighting, and performance, with different manufacturing methods and materials tested. However, the crucial element of all of the above was to maintain a strong aesthetic similarity to the BAC brand. The tool learned how to provide outcomes that still bore a close resemblance to BAC’s unique design style.
Valuable data was also fed into the generative design tool to inform the results. British wheel manufacturer Dymag provided data from standards testing; a process which certified previous BAC vehicles for road use.
Powered by Fusion 360, generative design uses a combination of artificial intelligence and cloud-computing to create design possibilities which take into account performance criteria and real-world manufacturability requirements, allowing designers to explore thousands of designs in less time than they could deliver a single concept using traditional processes.
The results produced a wheel that was an impressive 35% lighter, weighing 2.2 kg (or 4.85 lbs) per wheel, that could be manufactured traditionally on a CNC mill. It also met stringent structural requirements required for approval and certification in Europe. This was achieved in less time than BAC had ever designed a wheel before.
“Taking away the need to manually redesign a wheel and decide what the geometry should do as a result of FEA software readings is priceless,” said Ian Briggs, design director at BAC. “Generative design algorithms on Fusion 360 do this thousands of times a minute to the point where after only four hours you can have the most optimized solution possible–saving an unbelievable amount of time in the process.”
For a company like BAC, producing cars are as much works of art as they are functional pieces of engineering, so preserving the aesthetic signature of the brand throughout the design process was essential. Autodesk Research collaborated closely with the design team at BAC to understand these aesthetic requirements, and build this understanding into the generative design setup, resulting in a new wheel design which is a natural evolution of the original rather than a radical break in tradition.
“The revolutionary creation of our generative design wheel is something to certainly be celebrated, and it begs the question of what’s possible in the future of the automotive industry using this method,” added Briggs. “As our design journey progresses, we can analyze a number of parts and panels on any car we may create with the ultimate goal of saving more weight and making more organic forms in line with our design DNA.”
Autodesk manufactured the front wheels using 3 and 5 axis machining in its Technology Center in Birmingham, UK. Different materials and manufacturing methods were tested, but aluminum remained as the strongest option, as well as the 3 and 5 axis machining methods to reach the smaller and more narrow parts of the wheel. Dymag also tested these methods and manufactured the rear wheels in its facility. All four wheels were then hand finished by the wheel manufacturer and painted their signature ‘gunmetal grey.’
Andy Harris, principal technical consultant at Autodesk Research, who worked on the project commented, “Reducing the weight and materials used in the wheel made a big difference. Maintaining the aesthetics of the BAC Mono was equally important, however. We worked closely with the BAC team to explore solutions within generative design that could still bring a strong aesthetic similarity to its sleek and memorable car design. We’ve made huge progress helping the tool learn the distinction between different design aesthetics.”
Racing has always played a pivotal role in accelerating overall innovation in the car industry. As the industry struggles with the simultaneous disruption in technology, business models, and use patterns, innovation is needed today more than ever.
“New technologies are transforming automotive design. The move to reduce the carbon footprint of the automotive industry has driven greater innovation in the design and manufacture of vehicles. Advanced light-weighting approaches via generative design, as exemplified by BAC Mono, will be pivotal to improving power consumption and the range of electric vehicles,” says Stephen Hooper, vice president and general manager, Fusion 360.