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    What is CAE | Computer-Aided Engineering?

    CAE or Computer-Aided Engineering is a term used to describe the procedure of the entire product engineering process, from design and virtual testing with sophisticated analytical algorithms to the planning of manufacturing.

    Computer-aided engineering is standard in almost any industry that uses some sort of design software to develop products. CAE is the next step in not only designing a product but also supporting the engineering process. It allows for performing tests and simulations of the product’s physical properties without needing a physical prototype. In the context of CAE, the most commonly used simulation types include:

    Animation 1: Ship propeller simulation with SimScale using Computational Fluid Dynamics helps to optimize the propeller design without the physical prototype

    Simulation-driven design

    Simulations take only a few hours at most, in comparison to days or probably weeks required for physical prototyping. Though it is inevitable to avoid physical prototyping completely, simulations can help reduce the number of prototypes required before production.

    The standard CAE workflow involves generating an initial design and then simulating the CAD geometry with appropriate conditions. Design improvements are made based on the insights from the simulation results. This process is sometimes repeated until the product’s requirements are met and virtually confirmed. In case of behavioural discrepancies between the digital prototype and expectations, the CAD model or inputs can be refined further. This process supports faster product development as there is no need for building physical prototypes in the early development stages.

    CAE on the cloud

    Using engineering simulations in conjunction with high-performance cloud computing can reduce the cost and duration of each design cycle, as well as the overall development process.

    When planning to integrate simulation techniques into the product development process, it is important to know about the environment (forces, temperatures, etc.) that the product will be exposed to. Knowing these conditions is crucial to properly set up a simulation. The precision of the boundary conditions used plays a key role in the predictive value of the simulation.

    Up until now, besides predicting environmental factors, engineering simulation was a complex endeavour by itself, mostly reserved for experienced engineers and simulation experts. Modern CAE tools, such as SimScale, try to break these barriers, allowing users without deep knowledge of simulations to produce insightful results.

    Simulating complex geometries is difficult even with modern computers, as it requires huge computing power for performance. Big companies with sophisticated IT infrastructure use their own servers to host and run simulations. However, the rise of HPC (High-Performance Computing) in the cloud now also gives smaller companies, which usually can’t afford to buy and maintain the necessary hardware, access to the same simulation tools and capabilities. This disruption in the market for simulation products makes it now possible for everyone to simulate the products they design.

    Try it yourself!

    The importance of CAE in the product engineering process can only be realised if you solve a simulation yourself. Take any geometry or use one from our tutorials and analyze the results within minutes. If you haven’t already, sign up with a Community account or a Professional account for added benefits.

    Fields of application of CAE

    The main purpose of CAE is to test, predict and improve the robustness, efficiency, and durability of components and assemblies. Ultimately creating better products and reducing the number of required physical prototypes and the time to market. Fluid flow, mass and thermal transport, fluid-solid interaction, static or dynamic analysis, stress analysis on components and assemblies, conjugate heat transfer, conduction, convection, radiation and more can be tested for a wide range of designs using CAE software.

    Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) can be used in almost any industry that designs a product exposed to different environments. Industries using computer-aided engineering include but are not limited to automotive, aerospace, plant engineering, electronics, energy, consumer goods, and HVAC. The products range from extremely small parts to complex structures such as race cars, bridges or even power plants.

    Testing the structural integrity of a crane carrying a specific load, acoustic analysis of a concert hall or convective flow inside a light bulb; all these are examples of applications where simulation can make a huge, sometimes life-saving difference.

    Last updated: August 24th, 2023

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