GM Gets A Software Update to Help Cut Weight

General Motors is getting a new software package that will help the automaker to build lighter parts and more efficient vehicles.

It is the first automaker to use a new generative design software package from computer-aided design firm Autodesk. Generative design is a new type of software that uses cloud computing to process every possible combination of a solution. It tests each iteration and decides what works and meets the goals best.

In short, you tell the computer what you want in a part and it rapidly tries hundreds of different designs. The user then picks the best option for what they need.

It lets GM make parts lighter because they can quickly test the designs in the computer until they find one that is light but still meets durability and other requirements.

“This disruptive technology provides tremendous advancements in how we can design and develop components for our future vehicles to make them lighter and more efficient,” said GM Vice President Ken Kelzer, Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems. “When we pair the design technology with manufacturing advancements such as 3D printing, our approach to vehicle development is completely transformed and is fundamentally different to co-create with the computer in ways we simply couldn’t have imagined before.”

GM’s proof of concept example is a seat bracket they designed using the new software. The generative design was 40 percent lighter and 20 percent stronger than the original. Then, new advances in 3D printing let them turn a bracket that used to be eight pieces into a single part. Printing parts in 3D goes hand in hand with the new design to allow more complex parts that use a single piece instead of multiple components, yet are still stronger and lighter.

The advances that let Chevrolet trim 300 lbs from the 2019 Silverado were material and technology advances. This new way of designing and making parts could help them trim even more, saving you money at the pumps.