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Virtual Prototyping of Cycling Wear Pad Aimed at Performance Optimization


The activity described here, was aimed at studying innovative solutions for a seat for cycling shorts. Typical multidisciplinary and multi-objective optimization techniques were applied to the ergonomics and energy absorption of the seat, in relation to the geometry and the constitutive materials.

The software used were ANSYS Workbench for the FEM analyses and modeFRONTIER as optimizer.
The approach starts from the definition of the logic of the problem, the components ot which are described in parametric form.

In this light, once the seat and other relevant parts were virtually schematized, the structural response was analyzed in different solutions (as well as in comparison to a reference configuration), by modifying the geometrical characteristics of the constitutive materials, according to optimality metrics.

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Altri case studies sullo stesso argomento

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Campagnolo, the company that “played a major role in writing the story of cycling, turning sporting achievements into milestones in history and great champions into modern-day legends”, provided the characteristics against which the new seat design should have been addressed. In particular, the following qualitative parameters were to be pursued:

  • Better performance
  • Better technology
  • Better innovation
  • Better protection and comfort

In fact, this study was the basis for a prototype production which - after further testing - fully satisfied the customer's demands.

It was subsequently integrated into standard production and is today part of the new cycling wear line of
Campagnolo Sportwear (Tri-ProPad™).

The process logic as well as the overall research path are described in figures 1 and 2.

The input and output definition has been the first step in the modeFRONTIER workflow construction. After the object function was defined, the software has driven the ANSYS Workbench analyses, varying the project parameters in order to simultaneously minimize the padding volumes and pressure peaks by redistributing them on the whole seat.

The comfort for the cyclist was significatly improved, both in terms of saddle insulation with an weight.

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Fig. 1 - Methodological approach
Fig. 2 - Logic Flow

The modeFRONTIER optimization workflowis is shown in figure 3, where the different logic nodes and data represent the different steps of the process itself.
In particular, the following blocks should be noted: Input variables, Objectives, the WorkBench Node and the Excel Node. The two blocks with the variables (independent and dependent) are subdivided into geometric parameters, characterizing the seat shape, and into material parameters, assigning mechanical properties.

The Objectives are: minimizing the padding volumes and, at the same time, minimizing the pressure distribution and its peak value.

The modeFRONTIER software updates the input parameters, launches the FEM simulation (WorkBench Node), and post-processes every single design, (Excel Node), to evaluate the model performance.

modeFRONTIER checks and verifies the data elaborated by the spreadsheet, comparing and controlling them with the assigned objectives. According to this evaluation, the program decides how to continue with the optimization process.

Fig. 3 – modeFRONTIER workflow
Fig. 4 - Pareto frontier.Volume plotted against pressures

An initial population of 50 designs (50 value combinations for input variables) has been chosen together with MOGA II (Multi Objective Genetic Algorithm), a multi-objective optimization algorithm, which is characterized by its high robustness and ability to deal with various constraints.

Two projects were developed in parallel, with focus on a man’s and a woman’s seat respectively. They resulted in a new line of seats which is marketed since the beginning of 2009 as Tri-ProPad™.
Tri-ProPad™ actually meets the needs of all cyclists as it combines three design philosophies:

Tri-ProPad™ has been based on a pelvic/femoral area, coming from the analyses of the anthropomorphic characteristics of the cycling population.
More than 5.000 different configurations have been taken into account.

The simulation has allowed to evaluate the different pressure loads on the saddle so as to achieve better shape and anatomic results of the seat. Maximum lightness, comfort and perfect adaptability to the body are the distinguishing characteristics of Tri-ProPad™.

Tri-ProPad™ optimizes the maximum bearing surface with the minimum volume, and so guarantees the highest level of energy absorption and the best protection and comfort.

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The integration between a FEM software, such as ANSYS Workbench, and modeFRONTIER proved to be not only successful, but also essential in order to meet the requirements of a company like Campagnolo.

Sportswear indeed “played a major role in writing the story of cycling, turning sporting achievements into milestones in history and great champions into modern-day legends”.

In fact the study resulted in a lew line of seates whitch is marketed since beginning of the 2009 as Tri-ProPad™.

Moreover the study allowed to investigate the overall design space, which provided not just the necessary configurations for the prototype, but also additional configurations, which may give useful information for possible future developments and improvements for different kinds of seats, to be optimized with respect to different objectives.


Articolo pubblicato sulla Newsletter EnginSoft Anno 5 n°1

Paola Del Pesce
Campagnolo Sportswear

Marco Accarino

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