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Geometric Element Analysis & structural design optimisation of new office chair components.

The ASTUTE team worked in close collaboration with staff at Orangebox, utilising Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to understand how the back frame and arm rest components of a new task chair would perform in use.

This investigation enabled optimisation of the product design and assisted in the selection of the most suitable construction material.

Since its launch in 2002, Orangebox, based in Hengoed, South Wales has been recognised as one of the UK’s most successful office furniture companies. This month long collaborative R&D project involved the development of a new task chair designed for global export markets.

The investment in this new chair design is expected to result in the creation of several new jobs, particularly at the manufacturing facilities in Hengoed, while also offering the opportunity to create a supply chain for the new product in the South Wales region.

Design challenges

The initial design analysis on the chair’s back frame suggested that the part would fail under a specified typical load, which led to several design iterations being produced and tested until the optimised design was achieved. Similarly, different loading scenarios were applied to the arm rest to ensure that the design satisfied operational requirements.

Using contact analysis techniques, the project team were also able to predict the structural interaction between the materials making up the core structure and outer body of the arm rest in order to optimise the choice of materials and the over moulding process.

The Creo Simulate FEA tool used in the optimisation process is based on Geometric Element Analysis (GEA) which, unlike traditional FEA which uses h-elements, instead uses p-elements in which a polynomial shape function is employed to more accurately predict the failure mode of a structure under a specified load.

One challenge was the smooth data translation from a SolidWorks CAD model (used by Orangebox) into Creo Parametric CAD model, which was duly overcome by the use of the “Import DataDoctor (IDD)” option embedded in the Creo software.

For further information or to discuss collaborative opportunities through ASTUTE, please contact Andrew Hopkins, the ASTUTE-Cardiff Technical Delivery Manager.

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