Written by Megan Jenkins on August 20, 2019
March 28th, 2019
approx reading time
As a concept modeler, one of your tasks is design improvement and optimization. There are many strategies to improve the design of a product. In this article, we will focus on the engineering part of design and demonstrate how you can leverage current computer-aided design technology to make your everyday design workflow significantly more efficient.
But what is design? Design is essentially a decision-making process.
Assessment of the company’s ability to carry out customer requirements
Prototype and Testing
As you can see, the engineering design step is one of the later stages of the design process chain, but there is some flexibility in this, depending on your product. Engineering design does not necessarily need to be an expensive part of the process. In fact, we can see that prototyping and testing are the least flexible, yet most expensive, part of any product design process. Changes are very limited in this phase, and every iteration has to be rebuilt again, making it incredibly time-consuming and expensive. This resource-intensive step can be drastically reduced by taking full advantage of modern virtual engineering tools, like the SimScale engineering simulation platform.
With each passing year, hardware capacity and processor speed are increasing, allowing engineers to leverage computer simulations and modeling at a reasonable price. This means that your product can be analyzed and improved long before it is actually built, using only your desktop PC or laptop.
When working on engineering design improvements, a concept modeler aims for a better-performing product, whether that’s a car, pump, valve or a bicycle. In almost every product, you’ll find elements of fluid dynamics, solid mechanics, thermodynamics, acoustics, or a combination of these disciplines is involved. That means you can improve your product performance by taking a closer look at these specific properties and recognize the opportunities they present as early as possible in the design process.
If the performance of your product is affected by fluid dynamics, that is:
Then it is advised that you run CFD simulations on your product before you build it. By including this critical step, you achieve two things at once: you gain a detailed insight into the performance of your design AND you can implement improvements much more efficiently.
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Weight is of key importance in almost every product design. Whether it is a motorbike, fuel tank or even just a small part of a big assembly, reducing weight allows you to achieve at least three important things:
However, reducing weight comes with the increased risk of breaking under higher loads.
By running a finite element analysis (FEA) on your product for different load case scenarios, you can predict locations where the stresses in the solid are particularly high. By applying an alternative design, you can avoid having these weaker regions and immediately improve your overall product.
If your product involves heating, cooling or any type of heat sources, you should consider optimizing these properties by doing a thermodynamic simulation. Depending on where the thermal process for a concept modeler is important, the design engineer needs to either run a CFD analysis on the fluid (e.g., server room) or on the solid parts (e.g., heat conduction in exhaust pipes).
On the SimScale platform, it is also possible to run a conjugate heat transfer simulation in the CFD module. With this tool, you can analyze the heat transfer process in both the solid and the fluid. This comes in very handy for problems related to cooling electronics and heat exchangers.
By implementing the above steps—that is, by using virtual simulations—you, as a concept modeler, can speed up your design improvements while simultaneously decreasing the overall cost of the process. With both CFD and FEM, you can predict and foresee unwanted product behavior and suboptimal performance. In the last step of the design process, you can execute the prototyping phase to validate your numerical results. If you have built your simulations properly, the validation will be successful, and your product will be ready for manufacturing and distribution.
While the benefits of virtual engineering are clear, I have to admit that building complex simulations is not always easy. As a concept modeler, this is not something you need to work with it every day. Fortunately, there is tremendous help available on the Internet. Some of these resources, if you are using the SimScale platform, are the forum and the Public Projects Library. On the CAE forum, you can get in touch with like-minded people who are happy to help you further. In the Public Projects Library, you might find an appropriate simulation template that fits your problem well. Be sure to also read the documentation for SimScale, which has lots of valuable tips and tricks for design improvement!
Moreover, the SimScale staff provides you with first-class support in case you need technical or general help. Just click on the “Chat” tab on your dashboard to start a conversation.
A third option is to get in touch with one of the engineering partners of SimScale. These companies have vast experience in a wide range of areas, which you can leverage for your product design improvement!
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