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Simulation or computer aided engineering (CAE) using finite element analysis (FEA) is a method of virtually proving a product or design. The design is modeled, often starting with CAD data, within a simulation product suite like Femap on a PC. The simulation model is then virtually tested, using an FEA solver like NX Nastran, to verify that the design will function as expected under defined operating conditions. The results from the simulation provide insight into the behavior of the design and help engineers make design changes and improvements.
Simulation used to be exclusively the domain of large aerospace and automotive companies. However, these days, with powerful inexpensive computers, and affordable easy-to-use software, simulation is being undertaken by more and more small-to-medium sized companies in a wide variety of industries.
The use of simulation in the design process can bring many benefits that will save both time, money and your company’s or product’s reputation, not to mention helping you to innovate faster and get your products to market sooner. Below are just some of the reasons to use simulation.
With an increasing requirement to produce designs in shorter cycles, reduced time-to-market has become the foremost business pressure that drives the adoption of simulation in design. Prototype manufacturing and testing can take up a significant amount of calendar time. However, because simulation allows designs to be tested virtually, the reduced reliance upon physical testing and prototyping and the consequent time saving means you can effectively bring your designs to market sooner.
"With Femap we can build geometry very quickly. We create a model of the structure in Femap, run a modal analysis in NX Nastran and if the model doesn’t work we could quickly tweak the design and try again."
-- Mike Pagnotta - President - Pagnotta Engineering
Manufacturing costs money and testing can also be very expensive. Besides saving time, reducing the testing overhead by using simulation to verify your designs will also mean that you will be able to significantly reduce the expense of manufacturing and testing prototypes, which could amount to a considerable cost saving.
“Using Femap we were able to obtain information that would have taken four times as long to get from physical testing.”
-- Brenton Ellis - Design Engineer - Quest Aircraft Company
Customer demand for new higher quality products and increasingly complex customer requirements are major business pressures that face manufacturers today. To satisfy the demand for designs of greater complexity, the ability to innovate quickly in the design cycle becomes vital. Through virtual design experimentation, faster innovation – creative product design and the process of making improvements through the introduction of new ideas – can become a reality with the help of simulation. Simulation can position you ahead of the competition by helping you to improving your current products, create high quality new products and so better serve your customers.
Femap and NX Nastran let us indulge our creativity without fear that the ideas will lead the company down the wrong road. In an innovative field such as ours, FEA is a critical tool.”
-- Paul Voerman – President and Founder – Challenge B.V.
A major concern these days is the rising price of materials. Use of simulation can minimize the amount of material used in a design by optimizing it to be as strong as it needs to be, and eliminating wasteful overdesign. More than that, it is also possible to evaluate the performance of other less expensive materials in the design, bringing further potential savings.
“Optimizing material usage is how we achieve low costs and high performance, and although it is possible to do this with hand calculations, Femap with NX Nastran speeds up design optimization so that we can do it routinely, as a competitive advantage.”
-- Gianluca Camparini – Structural Design Manager – MDT Mc Drill Technology
Product recalls and product failure in the field is not only very expensive, it also can cause immeasurable damage to the reputation of your company as well as the product itself. Simulating your product designs in the virtual world, where design flaws can be discovered and rectified in a timely manner before the design goes into production, can increase the quality of the design, eliminate costly recalls later, and increase the reputation of the company and product.
“There is an adage, “measure twice, cut once". In the mechanical engineering world, we use Femap with NX Nastran to calculate twice so we only test once. This pays off in time to market, lower costs and safer products on the roads. In today’s global market, we’re as likely to see our wheel components in the Outback of Australia as we are on an ‘out n’ back’ to the neighborhood grocery store. We must design our products with care and Femap with NX Nastran plays a big role in helping us do that.”
-- Joe Brotherton – Director of Product Development – KIC Holdings
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