A child safety seat has a tremendous amount of responsibility – protecting and saving a small and vulnerable life. Parents do a lot of research before making such a purchase. Though safety is the main purpose of a car seat, ease-of-use and material considerations are also taken into account during the design process. In order to improve ease-of-use, weight must be reduced. To accomplish this goal without sacrificing safety, manufacturers use computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools to maintain or improve the seat’s strength.
Evenflo Company, Inc., headquartered in Miamisburg, Ohio, is a manufacturer of infant and juvenile products including car seats, baby travel systems, high chairs, play yards, and many other activity products. Safety is paramount to Evenflo. Andy Davis, senior design engineer at Evenflo CAE, was tasked with a car seat release handle design change. The release mechanism is a critical safety element of the car seat. He experimented with solidThinking Inspire, a tool which enables design engineers, product designers, and architects to create and investigate structurally efficient concepts quickly and easily.
Davis and his colleague Brian Pleiman, senior project engineer on the child restraint team, decided to pioneer a redesign of the car seat release handle using solidThinking Inspire. This redesign could improve the styling and ease-of-use while maintaining safety standards.
solidThinking Inspire’s initial results indicated great potential – a 30% mass and material reduction. The engineers were seeking to improve on the boxy appearance of the part, and the results were a great place to start to ensure that both function and style requirements would be met. Soon after, a prototype was built for the stroller and sled testing.
Pleiman notes, “This was a successful project for us. After styling the part, we were able to achieve a 25% improvement.” Davis adds, “solidThinking Inspire is quick to learn and has given us a different way of looking at parts.”
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