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CAE in the Cloud: Breaking Knowledge Barriers

CAE simulation SimScale

Computer-aided engineering (CAE) is a comprehensive concept developed in the design automation activities referring 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, first of all they need performance. This means robust solutions to produce better products, faster and with no-prohibitive costs. Many engineering simulation solutions ensure performance but many times it is important to see what are the hidden barriers. There are a lot of threats for the overall performance of the engineering process.

On-premises simulation software vs. SaaS

manufacturing 2Modern computing is based on packages of applications offering a complete set of software and tools to better deserve 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 wasted time.

Simulation tools are not by far the cheapest. Considering the hardware and software costs and any auxiliary maintenance services, a complete solution for CAE can require several hundred thousand euros.

For what such a high investment? For most of the 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. Compare this with less than 100 euros the cost of a simulation session using a CAE SaaS solution such as SimScale. And that’s because the users only pay for what they use, taking advantage of all the necessary processing resources and unlimited storage in the cloud. For running a simulation with SimScale, it is not necessary to have the highest performance graphics workstation in the world, but a simple laptop with minimal graphics configuration, a simple browser and an Internet connection.

Minimize damage through early testing

Without a good communication and collaboration between different engineers and designers teams, the whole production process can be affected.

Let’s see a simple example of an essential component from a car braking system. If the optimization process is not done on time and the digital model is not integrated in the production flow, any anomaly or malfunction detected means losses. And the losses are higher as the malfunction is discovered in a late stage. One thing is to find a critical point or a composite material with anomalous behavior in the incipient design and testing phases, and another is to discover a glitch when the product is on the manufacturing line. There are many examples in the automotive industry when the entire production was paused to fix technical problems. Can anyone estimate the real damage cost in such a situation?

What about physical prototypes?

Project 1Performance is most 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 costs. As the most advanced materials and prototypes require additional technological process, 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 of 2 000 – 3 000 € and may take several weeks, compared to a simulation session for testing and optimizing a virtual model, which costs around 100 € and only takes a few hours.

Often, in the case of special equipment manufacturing, the testing process based on 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 in 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 of 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 hundreds 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, but did not invest in software for complex simulations in real stress and trepidation conditions. To analyze the product’s vibrations, the manufacturer invested in a 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 were very high. Using a structural dynamics analysis combined with a thermodynamics modelling solution with a SaaS CAE solution would have eliminated all of these problems.

How does a modern simulation platform look like?

SimScale CoverCompared 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 provides a lot of methods useful in building great products, but not used at full potential due to the barriers brought by 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, independently 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-premise 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 pays only for what they use, achieving accuracy and performance at the best price. Even the most complex analyses run in a few hours, which implies a cost-effective investment.

Breaking knowledge barriers – simulation with SimScale is easy to learn and to use through the user-friendly interface and all the 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.


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