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Fast and Safe – University Students Test Their Race Car with ESI Virtual Performance Solution

Virtual Performance

Using ESI Virtual Performance Solution to investigate the performance of a composite crash absorber completely virtually enabled us to complete the structure’s design efficiently. Within a couple of days, the students learned how to use the software effectively and were capable of carrying out complex chained analyses.

Michal Vašíček
Project Consultant / Czech Technical University in Prague (ČVUT)



In the automotive industry, especially motor sports, crash absorbers made of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) are widely used because they have the best energy dissipation capacity to weight ratio among engineering materials. The team at ČVUT knew this well, but they also knew the challenge of designing and manufacturing these structures efficiently.

ČVUT is one of the largest technical universities in Europe, comprised of eight faculties, including Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Nuclear Science, Physical Engineering, and Information Technology. As part of its education and training program for final year students, the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering encourages students to participate in the international competition for “Formula Student Vehicle”. The main challenge is to work with complex design structures and advanced materials. From the start, it was clear to the project consultant, Michal Vašíček, that Virtual Prototyping would be necessary to meet their time and financial constraints.

The team adopted ESI Virtual Performance Solution (VPS) as their main tool throughout the project. They started by building simple models to characterize their chosen CFRP material and progressed to macro models of components, to validate their simulation results against lab tests, before tackling the design and optimization of the complete structure. Components were designed in a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) system and then imported into VPS to incorporate the physics of materials and crash conditions in the model.

The material characterization was comprehensive using a wide range of virtual coupon tests (tension, compression, in-plane shear, double cantilever beam, and end notched flexure). Having obtained a full set of mechanical and fracture properties of their materials, the students then built a simple, dynamic tube crushing experiment for validation. With confidence in their results and simulation methodology, the students began examining various geometries of the complete crash absorber and worked on finding an optimal layup of the laminate, balancing weight reduction and performance targets.

VPS enabled the students to evaluate the design of the CFRP crash box through extensive analysis of its behavior in stiffness, strength, and crashworthiness. Being able to carry out these simulations, while using one single core model for all performance load cases, made their task significantly easier. The students completed their goals in minimal time and stayed within their budget. More importantly, they were confident that they could indeed “go fast and be safe” on race day, not to mention being able to add a bullet point to their resumes: “success in using ESI Virtual Performance Solution for a prototype car design.

About Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU)


The Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU) is one of the biggest and oldest technical universities in Europe.

CTU currently has eight faculties (Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Nuclear Science and Physical Engineering, Architecture, Transportation Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Information Technology) more than 18,000 students.

For more information visit Czech Technical University in Prague

About CTU CarTech

Our team consists of about 30 students from all levels of university education. Majority of our team members study mechanical or electrical engineering at CTU in Prague. Team structure is divided into Technical and Project groups. Both of these units manage faculty consultant which is also responsible for all team activities,

Technical group consists of many sub- divisions which are further divided on demand. Every student which contributes on one of the following activity has unique chance to challenge its technical, social, language knowledge and abilities. Formula student/SAE project offers unique opportunity to get hands on experience in racing team and prepare students for their further career.

For more information visit CTU CarTech