Reduce Design Time Cost Optimal

What if you could reduce your vehicle development timeframe by up to 12 months?

Optimal’s analytical benchmarking methodology to new vehicle platform development saves automotive OEM’s millions of dollars and months of effort.

What if you could reduce the mass of your vehicle systems by up to 20% without adding cost or sacrificing performance?

Optimal’s unique approach to lightweighting leverages proprietary engineering analysis that optimizes trade-offs between materials, structural performance and cost.

CAE Vehicle Design

What if you could get rid of months of design iterations and CAD development?

Optimal’s method allows for a 20-month development cycle.
Speeding up time to market. Reducing costs.

Vehicle Design

What if your virtual vehicle model could be as accurate as the physical car?

Optimal’s CAE models and virtual simulations accurately mirror the physical tests saving you time and money in R&D.

We are a Tier-1 supplier of staffing and engineering services to Ford, Chrysler/FCA, General Motors, additional auto OEMs, and component suppliers.

Analytical Benchmarking Automotive Engineering

Who We Are

Engineering and Technical Staffing

At Optimal, we don’t just deliver what is asked. We go far beyond that, consistently exceeding customer expectations. Leveraging our multi-industry insight and innovative approach to engineering we identify and recommend the best industry solutions for you.

We started out in 1986 in manufacturing CAE and quickly evolved into a full service advanced engineering supplier and certified technical staffing firm. As a preferred supplier to automotive OEMs for over 30 years, we have built a solid reputation in the automotive industry for both our engineering and staffing services.

On the engineering side, we are known for our unique approach to analytical benchmarking which provides the highest level of 3D modeling accuracy available. This saves our customers millions of dollars and reduces months of effort in R&D and testing.
Find out more about our engineering services »

Our customers rely upon our recruitment and placement services for their technical staffing requirements. We are a premier automotive staffing supplier to the big three automakers, other OEMs, and component suppliers. Our flexible recruitment and placement services include contract and project staffing, direct placement, payroll services, career development, and training.
Find out how we can help you with your staffing requirements »

Optimal is MMBDC Certified Minority Supplier Optimal is ISO 9001:2008 Certified Optimal is ISO 14001:2004 Certified Optimal is Ford Q1 Certified

Optimal is also the recipient of the Ford Motor Company Technical Silver Partner Award.

What We Do

Engineering and Technical Staffing

Engineering Services

Since 1986, we have provided innovative automotive engineering services worldwide. We are experts in optimizing vehicle platforms for lightweighting and electrification.  Our unique methods of analytical benchmarking, computer-aided engineering (CAE), optimization, and product development saves our clients time and money.

Technical Staffing

Our unique approach to sourcing talent speeds up the hiring process and leads to stronger employee placements. Working one-on-one with you to clearly define your position and skills/experience requirements allows us to source and hire the best candidates for your company.


At Optimal, we invest heavily in new technologies. Our team of researchers have developed cutting edge innovations to market. See how we are using bamboo to create super-strength natural composite structures.  Find out how we developed a unique method to join dissimilar materials to enable lightweighting of structures.

Case Studies

Engineering and Technical Staffing


High Performance Full Battery Electric Vehicle

Optimal was provided the challenge by a new EV company to design and engineer a high performance full battery electric vehicle. Optimal approached the project with a unique methodology that included the following deliverables:
  • Competitively benchmarked other high performance full battery electric vehicles
  • Developed a full vehicle CAE model with material and joining characteristics
  • Morphed design in virtual domain to optimize lightweighting, structural integrity, safety, NVH, aerodynamics
  • Developed EV mule car for vehicle control and powertrain testing
  • Developed production intent prototype vehicles for evaluation
The result is ensuring our customer an accelerated product launch with a unique and optimized product!

Analytical Benchmarking

Customer Request Utilize optimization techniques to enhance their vehicle body structure to reduce weight and complexity of components. Optimal Approach Optimal used a multidisciplinary CAE design optimization approach by incorporating all relevant design variables simultaneously. This methodology offered the most precise optimization by addressing the effects of the interactions between the relevant variables:

  • Design Sensitivity Analysis
  • Topology and Topography Optimization
  • Shape and Size Optimization
  • General Computer Aided Optimization (multidiscipline)
The zero-base weight approach using these disciplines offered a ground up approach where you only add material where you need it for structural requirements. Optimization was completed at both the BIW system level as well as the sub components level (e.g., body pillars). Shape, size and joining methods are all optimized in the virtual domain. The Resulting Benefits of CAE Design Optimization
  • Weight and process costs reductions of 20% for BIW structure
  • Enhanced product performance: durability, NVH, and safety
  • A significant decrease in the number of design iterations from packaging to design
  • This process resulted in a higher quality body structure with reduced end-product costs

Two steering rack and pinion designs were required to be analyzed for stress studies. Each design was required to withstand two load cases.

To determine the bending and contact stresses in the rack and pinion assemblies under the specified load cases.


  • Construct four finite element models using solid elements to represent two rack and pinion designs and two positions. Note that gear profiles differ in each model.
  • Portions of the rack and pinion where they contact are modeled. The rest of the rack and pinion is modeled with deformable beam elements.
  • Assign nonlinear material properties.
  • Define areas of contact between rack and pinion.
  • Apply loads and boundary conditions.
  • Perform nonlinear static stress analysis using HKS ABAQUS.
  • Observe results and compare between designs.
Loads & Boundary Conditions
The bearings on the rack and pinion were represented by specific translational and rotational constraints. Two axial moments of different magnitudes were applied to the pinion, one when the pinion was at the end of rack (in-corner), and when the pinion was on rack center (on-center).

Results - von Mises stresses
Von Mises stresses obtained from the analysis show that the stresses were below the yield strength of the material.

Results - Contact Stress Profile
The cutaway views illustrate the distribution of stresses within the rack and pinion at contact Stress continuity can be seen across the contact interfaces.

The stress levels were observed to be well below the critical limit and the rack and pinion gear sets are predicted to endure the loads defined in the analysis without failure.

CAE: Finite Element Modeling

Customer Modeling Requirements
Rail parts meshed at 6mm average element size.
Typical BIW components are meshed with a 10.0mm element average length. However, as this model is shared amongst multiple load cases it is advised to mesh the critical load carrying rails with a refined mesh size. This approach allows critical areas such as crush initiators and strengthening beads to be captured thus optimizing a single model robust to handle multiple load cases.
Customer Modeling Requirements II
Areas of contact were modeled with matching meshes.
Scanned data (point cloud data) converted to STL format

STL data cleaned and prepared for converting triangle mesh into quad/tria mesh model

Final quad-tria shell mesh of average element size 10mm

Typical finite element meshing requires CAD data for best mesh quality results. Very often CAD data for the existing part is not available so it needs to be created from the scanned data. This CAD creation can be time consuming process. To avoid CAD creation for CAE analysis as a final product, STL format is directly converted to finite quad/tria shell element model. Mesh Model is then offset inbound by half thickness distance of the original scanned part. All element quality criteria's are met while elements are following the curvatures. Allowed Finite mesh to Scan data deviation is +-2mm.
Model Quality Required Values
    Aspect 85%<2:1
    (not < than 10) 95%<3:1
    Warpage 15 MAX
    Skewness 45 MAX
    Quad Angle Min. 45 MAX
    Quad Angle Max. 135 MAX
    Tria Angle Min. 20 MIN
    Tria Angle Max. 120 MAX
    Jacobian SHELLS Not < than 0.7
    Jacobian SOLIDS Not < than 0.5
    % Trias    7
    Total Number of Elements 1135
# of Quads 1086
# of Trias 49
Model Validation Normal Modes Analysis Six Rigid Body Mode
        First Mode at 25 HZ

Brake Rotor Thermal Flow Analysis

High temperature in a vehicle brake system could cause brake pad/caliper distortion, accelerated corrosion of the cast iron rotor, and excessive brake pad wear. All these problems would result in a shorter life span of the brake assembly and consequently more customer complaints.

The new brake rotor design is thus focused on the effective heat removal from braking. Current brake rotor design usually relies on expensive and time consuming experimental study for each new design.

Optimal CAE provides an integrated CFD thermal analysis technique that can assist the brake rotor designer to achieve the goal in a quicker turnaround time and a lower cost.

  • To evaluate and compare the temperature distribution and the airflow performance in different brake rotor design using CFD techniques.
  • To compare CAE predicted rotor temperature with the experimental data.
  • Construct modeling mesh for a slice of the brake rotor containing a pair of fins and the surrounding air.
  • Assign appropriate heat source generate from braking and inlet and outlet boundary conditions based on experimental measurements from the brake thermal capacity test at a constant rotation speed. Perform steady state turbulent flow analysis using FLUENT for two designs of fin configuration.
  • Transfer CFD result to ABAQUS to conduct transient heat transfer finite element analysis.
  • Compare transient temperature to testing temperature data.
Results - Temperature Distribution
The steady state CFD results show that the maximum temperature on the rotor surface with 37 straight fins is much higher than that with 72 curved fins.

Results - Heat Transfer Coefficients
The "steady state" heat transfer coefficient resulted from the CFD analysis is used as boundary conditions in the FEA thermal stress analysis.

Results - Velocity Contours
The airflow through the 72 curved fin rotor is much higher than that for the 37 straight fin rotor.

The CFD/FEA analysis correctly predicts the temperature difference trends corresponding to rotor design changes, however, the temperature after 25 stops for CAE prediction is higher than the testing data.

The discrepancy between CAE prediction and test data could be attributed to the simplification of the model.

For example:
  1. Thermal mass of hub and other components in the assembly is not included
  2. Heat loss due to radiation and conduction heat loss to the knuckle or axle are not modeled
  3. Mass transfer coefficient may change with time
  4. Mass transfer may be under-predicted by the wall-functions in the low velocity regions

Topology optimization of a stamped steel to cast aluminum conversion

Customer Request
Reduce weight of stamped steel vehicle component utilizing lighter weight materials and engineering optimization techniques.

Optimal Approach
Utilizing topology optimization, Optimal identified the high stress points for the component to determine design iterations that would reduce mass before considering lighter weight materials. A specific aluminum alloy was selected as a replacement for stamped steel. Further optimization of component structure was conducted to ensure component integrity based on material trade-offs including hardness, stress strain curve, thermal conductivity.

The Resulting Benefits of Lightweighting Optimization:
  • Reduced component mass by 51%
  • Reduced material cost
  • Reduced complexity of component shape and manufacturing process

Latest News

Engineering and Technical Staffing

Optimal Computer Aided Engineering

February 1, 2016

Optimal announces their expansion into the electric vehicle market leveraging their 20+ years of expertise in engineering vehicles by offering a comprehensive list of electric vehicle development services such as vehicle control units, battery packs, battery management systems, EV drive systems.

Learn more about Optimal's electric vehicle programs »

Optimal Engineering Design Optimization

June 28, 2016

Optimal is excited to announce the recent launch of their new program for vehicle lightweighting. Their unique “zero base weight” approach to design optimization has been proven to reduce mass in vehicles and components while balancing both the structural integrity and cost of the component.

Learn more about Optimal's vehicle lightweighting programs »

Optimal Engineering Competitive Benchmarking

October 15, 2016

Optimal launches a new program to develop electric prototype vehicles which accelerates the development timeframe for new electric vehicle platforms through competitive benchmarking, reducing a vehicle launch to 28 months as compared to a traditional vehicle development timeline of 50+ months.

Learn more about Optimal's electric vehicle programs ».

About Optimal Inc.

Headquartered in Michigan we have been providing engineering and technical staffing services since 1986. For more information signup to receive our email announcements and quarterly newsletter.

Optimal Vehicle Engineering Testing CenterOptimal's Vehicle Engineering & Testing Center

47802 West Anchor Court, Plymouth, MI 48170
T | 734.414.7933        F | 734.414.7944

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