MapleSim 2022 Continues Tradition of Big Conceptual Changes

Changes made to help engineers solve multi-domain problems.

Big Changes While Remaining True to the Math Mission 

Maplesoft recently announced MapleSim 2022 with a sizable list of changes coming to the simulation software. The Waterloo, Ontario software company operates on a simple mission statement — “Mathematics powers our modern world.” For more than 30 years, the company’s engineers have built tools around the analysis and application of math, and its customer base has grown to more than 8,000 companies, research labs and educational institutions in over 90 countries.

Changes coming to web handling, heat transfer and control valves. (Image courtesy of Maplesoft.)

Changes coming to web handling, heat transfer and control valves. (Image courtesy of Maplesoft.)

The 2022 release of the software has both feature additions and changes to existing tools. Major changes come in the areas of CAD imports, battery simulation, heat transfer analysis and web handling. MapleSim Insight includes improvements when running multiple simulations, and a new Directional Control Valve Builder app will help engineers working on power transmission problems. Maplesoft continues to push the idea that its software tools are built to help engineers solve problems in a system.

Web Handling Can Now Handle Multiple Layers and Multiple Rolls

The Web Handling Library add-on was one of the bigger additions made with the 2021 release. The tool simulates roll-to-roll processes and helps designers to reduce slippage, manage tension and optimize speed. Textiles, metal foils, plastic films and papers are all available for analysis. Starting with a wind drum and an unwind drum, engineers can add rollers and accumulators to understand the performance of a system.

Web handling sees big improvements after its 2021 debut. (Image courtesy of Maplesoft.)

Web handling sees big improvements after its 2021 debut. (Image courtesy of Maplesoft.)

Engineers can now combine web layers when running a simulation, with support for up to 10 different layers. This improvement adds complexity and compute power requirements to the software but is much more likely to give engineers better results. Adhesive films, plastic packaging, and multilayered foil products will all benefit from this change immediately. Rollers are also easier to work with now that creation and modifications are streamlined.

Multi-domain System Models Benefit from the Battery Library

The Battery Library helps engineers working on electronic designs, and it seems to grow every time a company announces a new electrified product. The multi-domain systems-level models can be used to design anything from vehicles to smart watches. Electrochemical physics and circuit model equivalents are covered in this library to help study how the battery exists in the overall system and how cycling will affect the battery over time.

Voltage and entropy charge inputs are the big additions to the Battery Library. Engineers can customize inputs to give the model more fidelity without the added time required to recreate the inputs for every run. The battery charger example is also new in 2022. It gives engineers a solid base to understand how battery charging is handled in MapleSim and offers a framework in which to run charger simulations.

The battery charger example is one of several prebuilt systems in the MapleSim Model Gallery. These models are a great way to start a new project with a framework in place before customizing the system to individual product needs.

For example, this internal combustion battery startup example shows the thermal and electrical components of a battery and shows the user how they interact with an alternator and an engine.

New Components and Modified Compressible Fluid Handling in Heat Transfer

The Heat Transfer library of components helps to run thermal analysis. The meat-and-potatoes assessments of heat transfer are available here, enabling engineers to study conduction, convection and radiation effects. Users can experiment with different boundaries, a large set of components, and different output properties. Two- and three-dimensional nodes are possible for the systems in cuboid, cylindrical or ring shapes. Heat transfer is an example of how MapleSim can study effects on individual components while keeping an eye on the overall system.

With the additions to the library in 2022, engineers can now use air change and water change components. These components will help to analyze contraction and expansion and support the Crane and Hooper models. Compressible fluids study will also be boosted with the new Air Orifice component, which takes the standards outlined in ISO 6358 and looks at cases where flow is choked or subsonic.

Changes to Maplesoft’s CAD Handling and Communication Tools

Users can now do more with imported CAD models in MapleSim. Inventor, NX, SOLIDWORKS, CATIA V6, Solid Edge, 3D ACIS, Pro/ENGINEER/PTC Creo, Parasolid, AutoCAD 3D, I-DEAS, IFC v4, IGES, and more are all supported as files for input into the CAD Toolbox. MapleSim can then analyze the component’s spatial and kinematic interactions to create a model tree that understands how the parts move in relation to each other. Imported parts are automatically created as rigid bodies in the software, so the first option is to treat the parts like one system in the MapleSim environment.

The biggest time saver is the avoidance of recreating models, from other software, in the MapleSim environment. Some CAD suppliers, especially SOLIDWORKS, have tools for using the predominantly parametric modeling software with simulation tools. But a nice future change might be model analysis in MapleSim that could lead to model changes in the simulation environment that then translate back to those changes being made in the CAD model. These changes will save engineers a lot of time as they move back and forth between modeling and simulation.

MapleSim Insight is not left wanting for changes with this new release. The communication tool is framed as the way for “nonexperts” to work with digital twins and automation. Function MockUp (FMU) objects coming from software like Rockwell Studio 5000 environment, or MathWorks Simulink, are compatible in the Insight workspace. The big change here is a Results Management Tool, which gives engineers a feel for how variable changes interact across multiple runs. Stored results will be easier to access with annotations available, and users can overlay several output plots together to find the best possible outcomes. Data mapping across Ethernet/IP transfers is improved for FMUs, and users can now export RSLogix 5000 files. Maplesoft’s commitment to educating its users is on display in the Insight section, as a tutorial system is added for both new and advanced users.

What Does It All Mean?

MapleSim is incredibly useful as a simulation tool but always strikes me as a little lacking in the creation area. CAD suppliers continue to add more features and simulation abilities inside their offerings. Maplesoft, then, needs to do two things—keep innovating with new features that CAD software cannot replicate and continue to improve its core competencies. The 2022 release does a good job of this with both its incremental changes and feature additions.

The world is electrifying everything, and the changes added to the Battery Library should be huge for MapleSim customers at both the vehicle and consumer electronics levels. Nonelectric vehicles also have a bump with the new compressible fluid tools. Automation and controls are a big product differentiator for MapleSim and continuing to build up its Insight tools as a product for rendering and communication is smart.

MapleSoft’s Senior Developer Chad Schmitke wants MapleSim to be a tool that engineers use to build, analyze and connect systems. His ideas at the recent MapleSim 2022 webinar showed that MapleSoft realizes its customers are not just trying to build models and run simulations but are more often trying to solve specific problems in a system. Schmitke also reinforced the idea that MapleSoft is very cognizant that its users need to have an in-depth knowledge of the software to get the best benefits from its use. This usually results in training inside the software itself, prebuilt models that beginners can use as a base or creating customer-need specific training. Customers who want to solve a specific problem can also rely on the in-house MapleSim experts to build models as a service as well.

The most interesting part of any MapleSoft announcement for me is still the commitment to math. Mathematics modeling acts as the basis for the physics, and the kinematics, the energy transfer, and even the interconnectedness of systems under analysis. The company that started more than 30 years ago with a math programming software product continues to build on that legacy and do more and more with mathematics.