Computer-aided engineering (CAE) is a comprehensive concept developed in the design automation activities. It refers to everything related to computers, platforms, applications, and tools for engineering, design, analysis, and manufacturing for products and processes.
What Do Engineers, Technicians, and Designers Need Today?
In this digital industry era, engineers, technicians, and designers need performance. This means robust solutions to produce better products, faster and with no-prohibitive costs. Many engineering simulation solutions ensure performance, but there are often hidden barriers or hurdles to overcome. There are a lot of threats to the overall performance of the engineering process.
On-Premises CAE Software vs. SaaS
Modern computing is based on packages of applications offering a complete set of software and tools to better serve industrial purposes. Many vendors of CAE offer solutions with extended applicability, but not all of them integrate multiple simulation analysis types. Without compatible file format and a large analysis spectrum of their software, specialists have to look for additional resources and tools. This means more money, no full integration, and lots of wasted time.
Simulation tools are not known for being cheap. Considering the hardware and software costs and any auxiliary maintenance services, a complete solution for CAE can cost several hundred thousand euros.
Why do companies need such a costly investment? For most companies, it is to run simulations when the engineering process requires verification or optimization of the prototype, which doesn’t happen on a daily basis. Running a simulation with a SaaS solution like SimScale, however, is significantly more affordable because it is not necessary to have a high-performance graphics workstation—a standard laptop with minimal graphics configuration, a simple browser, and a stable Internet connection is all you need.
Minimize Damage through Early Testing
Without good communication and collaboration between different engineering and design teams, the whole production process can be affected.
Let’s see a simple example of an essential component of a car braking system. If the optimization process is not done on time and the digital model is not integrated into the production flow, any anomaly or malfunction detected results in losses. And the losses are higher as the malfunction is discovered in a late stage. It is one thing to find a critical point or a composite material with anomalous behavior in the incipient design and testing phases, but it is another to discover a glitch when the product is on the manufacturing line. There are many examples in the automotive industry where the entire production was paused to fix technical problems that should have been caught sooner. Can anyone estimate the real damage cost in such a situation?
What about Physical Prototypes?
Performance is often cost-dependent. The best solutions are not always the cheapest. In manufacturing, a large part of the production costs is associated with the testing phase and building prototypes.
A physical prototype is expensive, and because the most advanced materials and prototypes require additional technological processes, the associated costs are escalating. A major advantage offered by engineering simulation is limiting the need to build a physical prototype.
Let’s take a simple case in which the prototype for a component can be made with a 3D printer. The costs for producing a single prototype can be anywhere from €2,000 – 3,000 and it could take several weeks to complete. Compare that to a simulation session for testing and optimizing a virtual model, which costs around €100 and only takes a few hours to complete.
Often, in the case of special equipment manufacturing, the testing process for physical prototypes is particularly difficult. Take, for example, a mining equipment component weighing a few tons and having oversized dimensions. Or a wind turbine’s blade of 20-30 meters. Or a commercial aircraft. Making a physical prototype is particularly complicated and costly, and the use of scale models does not guarantee the behavior is consistent with real operating conditions—not to mention endurance. A wind tunnel in the aviation industry costs several million euros, plus running costs and training specialists.
Airflow simulation through complex CFD analyses reduces the need for physical testing, providing answers to a much larger number of situations and problems. And that’s just for a few days of virtual testing and an investment of a few hundred of euros.
Another frequent case is the inappropriate use of CAE tools. Here is a real situation in which a producer purchased a simulation program profiling mechanical static analysis. However, they did not invest in software for complex simulations in real stress and trepidation conditions. To analyze the product’s vibrations, the manufacturer invested in sophisticated and costly equipment. The testing machine could not be installed and used in the laboratory for various technical reasons and no service support was available in useful time. The total investment in equipment, consultancy, and maintenance was very high. Using a structural dynamics analysis combined with a thermodynamics modeling solution with a SaaS CAE solution would have eliminated all of these problems.
What Does a Modern Simulation Platform Look Like?
Compared with traditional on-premise packages, the SimScale 3D simulation platform is recommended as one of the most powerful solutions based on a comprehensive set of simulation model analyses and cloud-computing infrastructure.
SimScale’s vision is based on the fact that computer science and mathematics provide a lot of methods used in building great products, but these are not currently used at their full potential due to the barriers of traditional CAE software. The SimScale simulation platform was developed with the idea of removing these barriers and making engineering simulation a standard tool for every engineer and designer, regardless of the company size, know-how level, or resources.
SimScale has created a completely new approach to how engineering simulation can be used by making it accessible, cost-efficient, and easy-to-learn and to use. Here are the most important differences between the SimScale web-based platform and traditional on-premises software:
Accessibility – any user has access to a powerful simulation solution running in a simple browser, without any supplementary hardware, software, or maintenance resources.
Cost-efficiency – using SimScale, users only pay for what they use, achieving accuracy and performance at the best possible price. Even the most complex analyses can be run in just a few hours, which implies a time- and cost-effective investment.
Breaking knowledge barriers – simulation with SimScale is easy to learn and to use through the user-friendly interface and the extensive free learning resources provided by the company.
“With SimScale, we have this unique situation that for the first time in the history of simulation software, the functionality itself, the people, the content and the know-how are all brought together in one place, on one platform, which can ultimately help everybody to learn simulation faster and apply it more effectively,” said David Heiny, managing director and co-founder of SimScale in a recent interview for DEVELOP3D LIVE magazine.