Engineering Design with AeroLab
April 3, 2018
Despite what you may have been told by your teachers / instructors / professors, the concept of an ‘exact’ solution to an engineering design problem often does not exist. Engineering design solutions are frequently a result of compromise between competing objectives, e.g., aerodynamics, weight, stiffness, cost, etc.
For cycling technology, this is part of the reason why we see different helmet, wheel, and bicycle frame designs.
The starting point, in our view, is to first establish a good understanding of the operating conditions for the product you are designing. This is step 1 in the design process (see figure below) – a good option for cycling, is to deploy sensors to determine the environmental conditions the product is operating in. This will include: temperature, humidity, acceleration, vibration, road conditions, road slopes, wind speed, wind angle, wind gusts, and possibly more. From this sensor data, design metrics may be established. I have listed a few example metrics in the figure below.
In step 2, testing should be done which replicates the design metrics. This enables a baseline performance to be established with a current or competitive product. By the end of step 2, the performance of the product under the anticipated operating conditions will be known. From here, you ask – how can we do better? What should we focus on? This is step 3. Change your design targets. Set new targets and be innovative. This may lead to multiple design ideas. Many can be rapid prototyped and experimentally or computationally testing in Step 2, which completes the design cycle.
In some cases, design ideas may alter the design metrics set out in Step 1, e.g., a bicycle frame which contains radically different stiffness characteristics may alter the transmission of vibration through the frame and the associated sensor measurements. In this case, it may be necessary to collect additional sensor data.
This short discussion is by no means an absolute answer to all cycling product design. This is simply an example of one design cycle wherein AeroLab technology fits quite well. I hope this supports the already strong discussions surrounding the use of real-world sensor technology in cycling product development.
Feel free to contact us if you’re interested in learning more about how to incorporate AeroLab technology into your product development.