Case Study

Best tools for the analysis job

ATA Engineering (Femap, NX, Solid Edge)

A leading service provider to the aerospace industry relies on Femap and NX Nastran

Trusted partner in aerospace

For more than 25 years, ATA Engineering, Inc. has been providing analysis- and test-driven design solutions for structural, mechanical, electromechanical and aerospace products. The company has worked on a wide range of projects – everything from amusement park rides to biomedical devices to electronics components. The majority of its work, though, has been within the aerospace industry; its customers include the Orbital Sciences, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Pratt & Whitney, NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Air Force Research Laboratory and Northrop Grumman.

ATA meets customers’ expectations by delivering technically accurate results while working within their tight delivery schedules.“Our customers want well-managed work that is completed quickly and accurately,” says David Hunt, vice president of business development at ATA.“We focus on technical accuracy, schedule and cost.”

One of the principles that guides ATA in providing the high-quality service its customers expect is “the best tool for the job.” As Hunt explains, “We have outstanding people, and they need the best tools to be efficient.We use a variety of software, as different projects can require different tools, such as those that are technically capable, compatible with what our customer is using, cost-effective and easy to learn, among other things.” For ATA, the Femap™ and NX Nastran® finite element analysis (FEA) solution from Siemens PLM Software more than meets this “best tool for the job” requirement. Not only does the company use this solution in its own work, it is also a reseller of this and other Siemens PLM Software products.

Industry-accepted FEA

ATA’s engineers create or import much of the geometry for their analysis models. Their preferred CAD system is the NX I-deas™ system from Siemens – “a very good system that our people are trained on,” as Hunt describes it. They use other Siemens CAD software as well, including the NX™ digital product development system and the Solid Edge® mid-range solution. This geometry, often along with customers’ geometry, is imported into Femap.

“Femap is very compatible with geometry created in other CAD packages,” says Hunt.“It also produces Nastran bulk data files, which is a very common standard in the aerospace industry.” Femap is also easier to learn than other pre- and post-processors, according to Hunt. This, and its growing popularity, are helpful to ATA as it adds engineers to its staff.“It seems that Femap’s use is on the rise, so it is increasingly likely that our new hires will already know how to use it,” Hunt notes.

ATA also finds Femap’s low cost to be another appealing feature. “Overall, it’s the most cost-effective pre- and post-processor available,” he adds.“We’re not a large company, so it’s a good fit for us.We find Femap to be the best value product – the most capable for the cost. And our customers’ evaluations reveal that they consistently agree.”

As for Nastran,“It is the industry standard for aerospace,” says Hunt.“What we’ve found is that both versions of Nastran are technically similar. But NX Nastran is less costly, so it is our preference to use NX Nastran when we can.”

In particular, Hunt appreciates the amount of development being put into NX Nastran.“We have a relationship with the developers, who are very responsive when we have questions and suggestions,” he adds.“It’s clear that they are truly interested in continually enhancing this product.”

Reselling the best tools

ATA is widely recognized as a leading provider of structural dynamics and modal test services and test-analysis correlation. Because of this expertise, the company is uniquely qualified to help others address their CAE software needs.

“We get requests for software recommendations, and when it’s appropriate, we tell them what we’re using,” says Hunt. “Most of the work we do as a Siemens PLM Software reseller is for ATA customers with whom we already have a relationship. They know we’re using these tools daily and that we’re producing good work using them. They trust that we’re not just out to make money but are also looking out for their best interests.”

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