Sport equipment design is characterized by the fact that a fundamental part of a product success depends on the athlete’s feedback. In fact, unlike most of other sectors, product success is decreed by athletes, on the basis of their unique perception of the product itself.
In 2008 Campagnolo, the legendary cycling company that “played a major role in writing the history of cycling, turning sport feats into legends and great champions into modern-day authentic myths”, decided to create a new sport cycling wear line (for both professionals and amateurs), starting from the design of a new and revolutionary pad for bike shorts.
The new pad was conceived from the beginning to give the cyclist a feeling of lightness and comfort, coming from the choice of materials, the pad shape and its superior saddle isolation. To reach this goal, it was necessary to minimize the saddle padding volume, looking for the right shape and thickness, while minimizing the pressure peaks, which are localized near the support surface of the pelvic/femoral area, by redistributing them on the entire saddle contact surface.
In addition, the choice of materials for the different cushions that form the entire pad was very important, as well as the usage of anthropomorphic models in order to create a pad that was as independent as possible from the various cyclists pelvic sizes.
According with Campagnolo Sportswear guidelines, a range of design parameters was selected for both the geometry and the material data. Subsequently, the pad CAD model was virtually schematized (using Ansys WorkBench – Design Modeler Module), making the geometrical shape and material parameters completely parametric.
The pad was initially shaped and fitted to several commercial saddles. Various measurements were studied with the software PeopleSize in order to calculate the pressure point positions of the pelvic/femoral bones on the saddle.
Also, the results obtained using the AnyBody software were very useful to understand the load distribution on the saddle with respect of the change in the cyclist’s position during the bike ride, and to transfer them to an implicit structural analysis code (Ansys WorkBench – Static structural Module), which was used to validate the initial model by performing a non-linear static structural analysis, so to calculate the pressure distribution response and the cyclist insulation from the saddle.
At this point the finite element model was fed into the optimization software modeFRONTIER, which was assigned of launching the Ansys simulations, one for each design, characterized by a fixed parameters set within a pre-defined range.
After a initial set of 50 design (50 value parameter combinations), the optimization software decided autonomously to assign different values to the input variables, using a MOGA II (Multi Objective Genetic Algorithm) optimization algorithm, targeting a Pareto-optimal design, which is to minimize the thickness and, at the same time, better re-distribute the contact pressure. More than 5000 different design configurations were taken into consideration and the performed analysis allowed a complete investigation of the design space.This study allowed, not only to obtain the optimal configurations, one for the men pad and another for women, but also to provide useful guidelines for the development of future pad typologies.
EnginSoft was able to meet and exceed the requirements of a company like Campagnolo Sportswear thanks to the technical knowledge of our engineers and the specific expertise in integrating a finite element numerical simulation software, like ANSYS, with a multi-objectives optimization software.
The study results were the basis for the launch of a new pad-prototype by Campagnolo Sportswear, to be tested by professional cyclers. After enthusiastic athletes’ feedback, a new line of innovative cycling apparel was officially launched by Campagnolo: TriProPadTM.
The interaction between Campagnolo R&D technical office and EnginSoft during all phases was continuous and fundamental for the choice of the project variables and objectives. This approach allowed also to reduce the time to market and to minimize the cost that was correlated to the experimentation of more than one real prototypes. Ultimately, the analysis carried out in this study was the basis for the patenting and production of three different pads: TriProPad– Tech Men, TriProPad– Pro Men and TriProPad– Pro Women.
modeFRONTIER provides a seamless coupling with third party engineering tools, enables the automation of the design simulation process, and facilitates analytic decision making.
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