Simulation Software Keeps it Simple for Design Engineers
Shawn Wasserman posted on January 27, 2015 |

Bringing Designers into Simulation Projects? Keep it Simple

Design engineers have a new CAE tool to assess their models through simulation, SimulationForDesign. What makes SimulationForDesign stand out is how simple it is to use. The platform isn’t the world’s first cloud-based CAE software. And it doesn’t have all the bell and whistles of other FEA platforms. But what it can do is get you an accurate answer cheaply, simply and early in the design cycle.

Design engineers should have no problem picking up SimulationForDesign’s streamlined interface. In fact, they should expect to become productive in just a few hours. Even those without any experience in simulation should have no problem learning to use the platform thanks to a few short tutorials.

Manage Simulation Projects and Share for Collaboration

After signing up for an account, users are greeted with a project management page. Here the user can create projects, edit their settings, and give other users permission to edit or view them.

Similarly, users can access their account page from this location. Here, users can edit the account’s default settings and upgrade for more storage and computational time.

“SimulationForDesign is getting a lot of interest from a wide user base thanks to its simplistic approach and low, straightforward price point. For ten bucks users can start a simulation,” said Joe Walsh, industry expert and CEO of intrinSIM.

However, users need not spend money, when they sign up for a free account. This will give users access to view example simulations, play with the interface, and study the results. This is perfect for engineers that wish to learn about simulation without risking any capital costs.

Free users also gain access to three main tutorials. These short guides will help designers understand simulation terms, the simulation process, and SimulationForDesign’s collaboration capabilities. “Don’t be afraid of the tutorials,” assured Walsh. “They are all in Layman’s terms and will get you going quickly.”

Simplified Pre-Processing for Non-Simulation Experts

Importing STEP, ACIS, and CUBIT geometry with a simple Drag and Drop

Once a project is opened users can drag and drop their CAD files into the folder. Based on the user settings, the CAD file will automatically be meshed and have material properties assigned.

Next, users can click on the model they wish to work on to open up the pre/post processing GUI.

The users work their way through SimulationForDesign’s GUI using a navigation tree, input menu, and exposition screen on the left hand side. The tree gives users access to various input prompts to control the geometry, meshing, materials, and boundary conditions.

Meshing is performed automatically with the coarseness controlled by a ten point scale.

The first thing the user will have control over is the meshing of their part. If the mesh appears too fine or too coarse then the user can control the meshing algorithm using a 10 point scale.

SimulationForDesign uses the same meshing technology as the major CAE players,” expressed Walsh. “But we don’t want to confuse the designers who aren’t used to simulation techniques. Therefore, we have cut out functions such as locally defining a mesh.”

He added, “Our general advice for new users is if you are not sure if the mesh is okay then make a finer mesh and re-run the calculation. If your results are similar then you are okay.”

The material properties of the design can also be accessed through the navigation tree. Once opened, the menu gives you the option to alter the part’s material name and characteristics.

Each volume will initially be assigned default material names and properties. However, each volume can be given its own unique material. To assign a new material to a part it must be linear, elastic and the density, Young’s modulus, and Poisson’s ratio must be known.

Perhaps the most complicated process for an engineer new to simulation will be the definitions of the boundary conditions. Here the engineer will define the forces affecting the part they have created.

Boundary conditions are simplified considerably. But this might be the most complicated process for beginners.

“The definition of boundary conditions is something we can’t get away from,” agreed Walsh. “We can get the definitions of material and meshing straightforward but boundary conditions are tough. However, we do have a FAQ section, an exposition dropdown in the left hand menu, and insightful error prompts to help users.”

None the less, SimulationForDesign has managed to simplify the declaration of boundary conditions compared to other software. For instance, users can only choose between displacements, gravity, pressure and nodal loads.

The user can click on the surface that the load affects (if applicable) and then define the magnitude and/or condition of the load.

For example, setting a displacement condition on a surface with x, y, and z all set to zero tells SimulationForDesign the surface cannot move. This will help to reduce degrees of freedom.

Alternatively, setting a surface to experience a pressure condition will require a magnitude for the load as opposed to x, y, and z displacements.

The boundary conditions associated with parts in contact have been significantly simplified in SimulationForDesign. The platform assumes that anything in contact is connected. Walsh explained that “the connections cannot be changed at this point in time. There is no slip contact analysis yet. But it is under development.”

Guileless Solver and Post-Processing for Beginners

Post-Processing for Displacement, Strain, Stress, and Von Mises Stress is made simple through a WYSIWYG menu.

The solver for SimulationForDesign is powered by Fidesys CAE software. Walsh said, “Fidesys has a strong background in numerical solutions. They are industry tested and have been involved in numerical and analysis for years.”

However, many of the functions of Fidesys CAE have been stripped down to give the SimulationForDesign user a streamlined platform.

“Currently the SimulationForDesign can only calculate linear statics. It does the basic stuff for better answers early in the design cycle. The goal isn’t analyst level simulations, it is smarter design decisions for any given design,” said Walsh.

Once the calculations are completed, the user can perform some simple post-processing of the results. Stress, displacement, strain and Von Mises stress can all be displayed on the model. Users can also determine if the legend and wireframe will be visible.

For displacement charts, users can also change the deformation scale. This scale will exaggerate the bending of the model. To better represent the displacement, users can also display a ghost image where the original image stood.

In summary, SimulationForDesign is a great introduction for those learning simulation. It is also a cheap and powerful tool give designers the insight they need to drive innovation through analysis as opposed to geometry. For free access to SimulationForDesign and to test the technology for yourself follow this link.

IntrinSIM has sponsored this post. They have no editorial input to this post - all opinions are mine. Shawn Wasserman

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