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Design simulation helps manufacturers verify and validate the intended function of a product under development, as well as the manufacturability of the product. The word “simulation” is often used as generic term for computer-aided engineering (CAE). Several design simulation approaches have become standard components of product development in many industries, and they continue to grow in importance as inexpensive, faster computers and affordable, easy-to-use design simulation software allow users to address new technologies and applications.
Simulation models are sets of mathematical equations representing the behavior of the system in a physical domain of interest. The complexity of the mathematics depends on availability of data and varies in function of the application and the design stage.
In early development, typically more simple system representations use analytical assumptions and verify the interaction between several physical aspects on a concept-level. In late development stages, typically very complex, application-specific models are used for validation and refinement. The applications can cover aspects such as structural behavior, acoustics, system dynamics, crash-worthiness, thermal and flow analysis, stress analysis, fuel economy, controls development and much more.
Design simulation can include a wide range of analyses that virtually test behavior of a product under various operating and environmental conditions. As opposed to trial-and-error, a smart simulation process allows targeted implementation of design choices in various stages of the development cycle. This drastically reduces the need for recurrent, time-consuming testing on expensive physical prototypes, and subsequently shortens the total development time.
An effective design simulation process helps companies reduce development costs and bring innovative products to the market faster than the competition.
Simulation of manufacturing processes is commonly referred to as “process simulation” or “virtual manufacturing.” It includes the simulation of forming, stamping, machining and other processes to determine the manufacturability of the design, as well as the effect of design changes upon the manufacturing method. It is closer to manufacturing engineering than to traditional stress engineering, but the underlying technology (FE modeling) is the same. Being able to view a simulation of the manufacturing process as you design the product results in optimized manufacturing processes, as well as products that are optimized for performance, cost and quality.
Simulation models offer more flexibility in the product development process than physical prototypes. Creating design alternatives often only requires a few button-clicks, and testing them does not call for a complicated setup. Design simulation can provide analysis results that might be impossible to obtain through physical testing. Simulation models allow you to virtually test locations in the product which cannot be physically accessed with measurement equipment, can output physical magnitudes for which no sensors exist, and provide a virtual view of the factory floor to understand manufacturing processes.
Because there is no risk of the tested object (product) getting damaged, simulating an extra operational condition is just a matter of applying a different boundary condition. Design simulation has a wider operational range than physical testing; it can virtually model and test conditions which are difficult to generate in a real-world environment. Because there is no risk of wasting materials, simulating a new manufacturing process is just a matter of working with a product definition to apply a specific manufacturing method.
While physical testing will always be essential in product development, simulation models bring manufacturers closer to their ultimate dream of building only one prototype: the final product.
Make design decisions taking into account their impact on functional performance and manufacturing
Balance different functional aspects during concept development
Reduce cost and increase design efficiency by removing unneeded material and weight
Provide performance and manufacturability insights earlier in the development process
Leverage detailed, attribute-specific models for validation and product refinement
Provide results through simulation models which are hard or even impossible to measure on physical prototypes
Virtually test simulation models under extreme operational conditions