4 simulation solutions that every designer, engineer, and analyst should know

From an overview perspective, simulation tools address two distinct needs in the product design process, and both focus on how the object being designed will perform in the real world.

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The needs are structural analysis (traditionally via finite element analysis (FEA) - predicting the response of structures to external workloads) - and thermal/fluid flow analysis, the domain of computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

This blog introduces two leading solutions in each category that provide certainty at the design stage that your design intentions will be realised. More importantly, they enable you to gain this insight while developing the design.

These tools remove the need to make early prototypes, which can often prove costly and time-consuming interim exercises that become costlier and even more time-consuming when errors or shortfalls manifest in the prototype phase.

To get an idea of the entire catalogue of benefits that simulation software can open up for your design approach, see our blog, ‘Top Ten Simulation Benefits’, and bear in mind that while we selected ten for the blog, there are far more than that.

When you opt for any of the solutions we’re discussing below, you’ll know you’re using the most advanced tools on the market. That provides satisfaction and reassurance for your business and those you’re designing for, a move which goes a long way to inspiring your teams and any other stakeholder touchpoints for your projects.

Selecting the appropriate software for your design process will enable you to use your time better and avoid unnecessary expenses. You’ll be able to address any areas of doubt digitally long before you may otherwise only have discovered them physically.

Finite element analysis (FEA)

With conventional structural simulation, designers, engineers, and analysts devote enormous time to geometry preparation to apply meshing (structured and unstructured) to the CAD design. Two solutions enable you to win back that time:

Altair SimSolid®: Structural Analysis for Rapid Design Iterations
SimSolid is a virtual testing environment and structural analysis solution for even the most complex and fully-featured CAD assemblies impractical with traditional FEA, such as ragged contact surfaces characterised by gaps and overlapping geometry.

When companies start using SimSolid, they are amazed at how it provides accurate results in minutes, sometimes seconds. They don’t have to work on simplifying the geometry themselves, and the software does it for them. Processes that may previously have taken anything up to a week to complete were shrunk down to a few hours.

The impact on productivity when this sort of time-saving is affected, is transformative. One significant change is that designers can understand the structure earlier in the design phase. This means they can make changes earlier in the design’s evolution, such as removing weight where it becomes evident that they can do so—with the obvious follow-through of reducing costs. Explore Altair SimSolid®

Inventor Nastran®: CAD-embedded finite element analysis
Inventor Nastran comes with something of an impressive pedigree, having been developed for NASA in the late 1960s under United States government funding for the aerospace industry.

The software works directly inside Inventor, empowering designers and engineers to perform simulations on their designs without calling on other internal specialists or, as many companies still do, employing third parties for the simulation tests.

With Inventor Nastran, simulation covers multiple analysis types—such as composite, linear and non-linear stress, dynamics and heat transfer—providing precise and dependable FEA solver solutions widely accepted within the CAD environment. The software helps ensure accuracy and consistency through a comprehensive verification programme and documentation set, using International Association for the Engineering Modelling Analysis and Simulation Community (NAFEMS).

Nastran is available in the Autodesk Product Design and Manufacturing Collection (PDMC), so you may already have it in your current licensing agreement.

Explore Inventor Nastran®

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD)

Mechanical engineers rely on fluid, gas, and airflow simulation for various reasons, including the constant drive to create increasingly efficient products and - of high-profile importance in the drive to net zero - to reduce energy consumption, a particular focus for HVAC engineers.

CFD helps identify areas of potential failure in a design which may emerge as an actual failure once the product has been in operation for a period of time. Identifying errors early enough enables designers to focus on adjustments earlier on that will help extend the operational life of products and systems.

CFD simulation also gets around the time and cost of producing physical prototypes when a digital prototype can be created to serve the same purpose and provide an equally demonstrative product experience. The two CFD solutions to consider are:

Altair CFD™: Unparalleled breadth of CFD simulation solutions
For solving fluid mechanics problems, Altair CFD simulation includes all the major CFD technologies, enabling engineers to solve all fluids problems regardless of industry or application.

From the thermal analysis of buildings to predicting the aerodynamics of vehicles, optimising gearbox oiling, and reducing cooling fan noise, through to developing innovative medical devices, Altair CFD provides the functionality to do it.

You can explore designs with the software’s flow, heat transfer, turbulence, and non-Newtonian material analysis capabilities without the difficulties associated with traditional CFD applications. Altair CFD is robust, scalable, and accurate regardless of the quality and topology of the mesh elements.

It also provides an ultra-fast prediction of aerodynamic properties in passenger and heavy-duty vehicles and for building and environmental aerodynamics. Engineers can resolve highly transient aerodynamics simulations overnight on a single server. Explore Altair CFD™

Autodesk® CFD: Simulation software for engineering complex liquid, gas, and air systems
Autodesk® CFD software creates computational fluid dynamics simulations enabling engineers and analysts to intelligently predict how liquids and gases will perform and analyse heat transfer and fluid flow design.

With a broad scope of fluid flow and thermal simulation capabilities, Autodesk CFD enables you to perform fast and accurate simulations of high-speed turbulent and incompressible flows, conduction, and convective heat transfer.

While associative design studies can be driven from within a CAD system, a single model can be opened directly in Autodesk CFD and manipulated with a model-centric interface. Finite element meshing is automated, auto-sized and refined.  Typical applications include consumer products, automotive, oil and gas, medical and industrial machinery.

Autodesk Simulation CFD Advanced software also provides flow and thermal simulation functionality, allowing engineers to study transient (time-dependent) simulations, compressible flow, radiation effects, and humidity. Typical applications include electronics, aerospace, defence, lighting, LEDs, valves, and architectural/MEP.

Explore Autodesk® CFD

Take the next step

Deciding which solution is right for your business and project needs can be challenging. Symetri can help you make the right decision, assess your needs, and align with your customer's expectations of how you approach design and assure them of projected performance.

We’re helping empower advanced manufacturing methods with leading simulation solutions, which are tried and tested in some of the most complex use cases. If you want to find out how we can help ensure you get the best solution for your design requirements, fill in the form to get in touch.

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