NAFEMS is an international organization dedicated “to promoting the safe and reliable use of finite element and related technology”. Since its inception in 1983, NAFEMS has been a vendor-neutral, not-for-profit, international membership association, that is owned by its members.
Every two years, NAFEMS holds its regional conferences. This year, the Americas conference was held in Seattle Washington, USA, hosting 325 attendees from 18 countries, which is twice the size of the 2014 conference and makes the Americas conference the largest one this year. It provided 95 presentations from industry, software providers, researchers, and academia, as well as ten training sessions.
The first day’s keynotes were presented by Dr. Halpern from Gartner and Joe Walsh from ASSESS. Both speakers highlighted the exploding use of simulation software due to software maturity, increased market competitiveness, increased regulations, and more complicated systems. However, with this increase in simulation usage, the industry is also facing a lack of experts who are capable of understanding and using the tools correctly to provide reliable results.
One future trend that is predicted to bridge the gap between experts and other users are Smart Apps. Smart Apps cover a range of tools, such as very specific analysis tools that are almost plug-and-play, or that to add knowledge into the current software, allowing expert knowledge and company procedures to be embedded into the tools.
Cloud-based Computer-aided Engineering (CAE)
Two other disruptive trends that Dr. Halpern and Mr. Walsh see coming are cloud-based CAE and pay-as-you-go pricing. Cloud-based CAE allows greater access to your simulations whether you’re a single user wanting to work on a tablet, or a large design team spread across the world. Cloud-based simulation allows instant collaboration without software versions, licensing issues, or platform constraints. The pay-as-you-go pricing model is very disruptive to the established CAE vendors. CAE software vendors are accustomed to being able to charge tens of thousands of dollars for their software, with annual maintenance fees in the range of 20% of the purchase price.
Although not called out by name, SimScale was shown on one of the slides when Dr. Halpern was speaking about the disruptive nature of cloud CAE.
With over 95 presentations in just two and a half days, it was impossible to see all the sessions.
Key Messages at NAFEMS Americas Conference 2016
The key messages of the conference were summarized by Dr. Rod Dreisbach of the Boeing Company (retired) on the last day. The key messages fall into the following categories:
- System Modeling and Simulation
- Predictive Analysis and Uncertainty Quantification
- Computational Structural Mechanics
- Democratizing CAE
The area of system modeling and simulation saw growth in a new paradigm—thinking of a product as a number of cross-dependent systems. An increase in model-based simulation, analysis, and systems engineering was shown, including an increase in cross-technology simulations, such as coupling analysis, optimization, build, test, and certification. Advanced techniques were displayed for concurrent simulation and co-simulation.
Predictive analysis and uncertainty quantification show an increasing demand for qualified fidelity of simulation results, addressing manufacturing product design issues, and correlating with physical test data. A method of using calculated confidence levels (reliabilities) and sensitivities to replace “Safety Factor” was also discussed.
Computational structural mechanics had several presentations on advanced modeling of composite structures with damage assessment. A new methodology for modeling, optimizing and analyzing contact, fasteners, fracture, noise, vibration, and additive manufacturing was showcased. A new method for multiscale modeling and analysis was also shown.
The multiphysics seminars highlighted advanced methods for performing cross-functional concurrent simulation and co-simulation, spanning thermal, acoustics, noise, vibration, fluid-structure, and CFD.
Democratizing CAE was a topic in many of the keynotes, as well as several seminars. Much of the focus was on increasing the growth in deploying simulation application with embedded knowledge for performing engineering processes (focusing on smart apps for a non-expert analyst to exploit CAE tools by a larger workforce). Simulation-based knowledge capture and reuse were also discussed.
NAFEMS has over fifteen working groups that promote the safe and reliable use of computer-aided engineering. NAFEMS has also published many books on the topics of CAE and it offers classes on various topics related to the field. The Americas conference highlighted much of the work these groups have done over the past two years, and it demonstrated the organization’s desire to improve the state of computer-aided engineering, FEA, computational fluid dynamics, and more.
If you’d like to read more about NAFEMS, check out the organization’s website here.
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