The Surprise in ANSYS’ Acquisition of Spaceclaim?

Back and the beginning of May, when ANSYS announced their intent to acquire Spaceclaim, pundits and analysts responded with a range of reactions.

Some cheered, saying such a combination of geometry manipulation and depth of simulation technology was a breakthrough. Others groaned, saying Spaceclaim’s impact on true design would be undercut. And while I posted by own initial questions, I saw some real potential to solve a longstanding problem.

Will ANSYS act on it? I can’t say I know, but I hope they will.

The Debilitation of Simulation Driven Design

A couple years ago, I wrote a post on the biggest issue that I saw with the simulation driven design initiative. The problem, in short, is that is requires four things:

  • Knowledge of engineering physics to understand how to represent real world mechanical operating environments.
  • Knowledge of the simulation method to properly setup simulations and avoid problems and issues inherent to specific methods.
  • Skills to use CAD software applications to represent different design iterations.
  • Skills to use Simulation software applications to find the commands and functions to setup the simulation.

Then, as I do now, I argue that finding all four of these sets of knowledge and skills in a single engineer is asking too much. Today’s engineers have responsibilities that range much further afield than just design. The super-engineer that can do all of these things is practically extinct.

The Alternative to the Super-Engineer

But that’s not to say that simulation driven design is doomed. Instead of asking a single person to do this, those responsibilities can be spread across the organization. The trick is getting those two, three or four individuals across the organization to work in a coherent manner.

Then, and now, I suggested that this is a great application for collaboration, and even social, technologies. Such tools allow many individuals to connect and collaborate in real time. I found it funny that simulation, instead of other areas of product development, could most readily use social technologies.

Spaceclaim’s LiveReview for Simulation

All this brings me to my point about the acquisition of Spaceclaim by ANSYS.

Back in March, a mere two months prior to the acquisition, Spaceclaim launched LiveReview. Essentially, this technology enables many users to share a single session of Spaceclaim. It allows people using Spaceclaim to connect to one another, but also anyone with a browser to connect as well. Changes that one individual makes is seen by all of them.

Looking at this capability now in the context of simulation driven design, I see a perfect fit. An individual engineer, a simulation analyst and a CAD expert could all share a session where they  are manipulating geometry, setting up a simulation and even running a sensitivity study, enabling true simulation driven design.

Can LiveReview do that today? No. It works with the Spaceclaim application. But if extended to other ANSYS simulation products, it could conceivably do so.


  • I still see the need of four knowledge and skill areas as an obstacle for simulation driven design. Finding one individual that possesses all four of them is a challenge.
  • It is possible, however, that this could be distributed across an entire organization. In that context, collaboration tools become the critical enabler.
  • Spaceclaim’s LiveReview, launched March, seems to have the real-time collaboration capabilities that could enable some part of simulation driven design.
  • It doesn’t work with ANSYS products today, but the concept, if not the actually application, could be made to work with ANSYS’ simulation tools. I see great potential there.

That’s my stance folks. What do you think? Sound off and let us know your thoughts.

Take care. Talk soon. Thanks for reading.