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Tag Archives: Simulation

Autodesk Simulation Nastran Launch : Where They are Now

When Autodesk purchased NEi in early May, 2014, they said absolutely nothing. A hint got around quickly but still nothing official was stated until Derrek Cooper, Director of Simulation at Autodesk, released a teaser that seemed to keep the public demeanor at an even murmur. Still there were people all over the industry a bit uneasy about what this all meant, and just how much did Autodesk buy?

The company invited the media out to their Lake Oswego office to introduce some key people, initiatives, and to explain what was really happening with NEi Nastran, and why.

NEi Software Acquisition

Autodesk’s Simulation Business Line Manager, Vic Vendantham, discussed the details of the NEi purchase, how it was handled, and exactly how much NEi intellectual property (IP) was acquired, and most importantly, how it will affect Autodesk’s simulation portfolio.

Autodesk NEi Nastran Acquisition Launch Vic Vendantham

How Much of NEi was Purchased?

All of it. As stated in the press briefing,

…there will be no further branding of software by NEi.

Numerous former employees of NEi have joined Autodesk, including Executive Vice-President, Mitch Muncy.

Autodesk Purchases NEi Nastran

Why Buy More Simulation?

Autodesk needed an efficient and powerful non-linear solver; Period.

Autodesk has invested heavily in Simulation in the past decade. Most of their simulation products are based on purchased IP, including:

  • Inventor Professional Static Stress Analysis Environment – Plasso
  • Simulation Mechanical – Algor
  • Simulation MoldFlow – Moldflow Corporation
  • Simulation CFD – cfdesign
  • Simulation Composite Design – Firehole Composites
  • And now Nastran – NEi Software

Autodesk’s simulation power-users have been watching to see what the company would do to fill in the ‘non-linear’ gap. The company’s Simulation Mechanical software is a powerful analysis package, and already offers dynamic analysis and non-linear material types, as well as basic multi-physics handling such as thermal stress, etc. Autodesk’s Inventor CAD software lacks non-linear capabilities in its simulation environments, as well the company’s newly developed Sim 360 product. However where no one thought any advancement would be made in Inventor, Sim 360 was thought of as a possible candidate for such support.

There is a line however, that gets crossed even in Simulation Mechanical in terms of efficiency of not only the iterative solver, but also some multi-physics workflows and general software limits. Analysts that have tried a variety of simulation platforms can attest to the complex assembly handling and wide possibilities that Nastran offers.

Autodesk has quietly acknowledged these needs, but previous actions and statements made by the company have led many to believe that their focus would remain on the market that their products were more widely used in, i.e. the Small-Medium Business (SMB) manufacturing and design market. Companies in the heavily entrenched aviation and automotive industries rely on more complex solutions provided by other software vendors, including Nastran based solvers.

Why doesn’t Autodesk simply develop a more capable transient and non-linear solver? We will answer that very question in our upcoming article.

A Window into Autodesk Fusion 360′s Near? Future

A Window into Autodesk Fusion 360's Near Future

Just a quick one today. I recently came across these videos showing off potential implementations of simulation and design accelerators in Autodesk Fusion 360. There’s some pretty cool stuff in them, so I thought I would share them with our readers and offer some comments on each one. I’ll get the ball rolling with simulation.

Optimization

Now that is a pretty sweet pre-design, proof of concept tool! However, the downside is the potential precedent they could set for unconscious incompetence. These kinds of early stage “monkey see, monkey do” analysis tools are pretty compelling, especially if they are used during the bidding stages to win jobs or at least allowing you to write off poor design ideas and zero in on the better of the bunch. But they certainly are not suitable replacements for grown up simulation and real world product testing. Is this something you would use?

Too Hot To Drop

I’m no simulation expert, but drop tests from what I understand are safe enough to make ‘fool-proof’ in this way. For the most part there is no need to over-complicate the issue with high-end simulation tools. In this case here though, I would imagine the limitations would come in when your model becomes too complex for it. But again, this should probably only be used during the early stages of the design process.

Gearing Up

Seeing these types of tools appearing in Fusion 360 is giving me the willies. As a faithful Inventor user that is. It’s nice they are being put into the product, but it does increasingly make me wonder when the cross over between the two products becomes great, what will happen? Fusion 360 is just such great value for money. The Gear Feature shown at the end is badass! It means you can focus on your design in a simplified cylindrical and/or conical way, then scoot around adding Gear Feature’s when you’re hot to trot. Lovely! It’s that kind of stuff that makes Fusion 360 scary for Inventor… but then again. Just look at T-Splines. The Inventor development team now have some excellent internal competition to keep them on their toes, but also a great reference to step back, admire, pole around in and learn from.

Driving Me Nuts

I’ve recently been mucking about a bit with SolidWorks as a result of supporting HSMWorks during my day job. One of the things those two products together do very, very well, is holes. The SolidWorks Hole Wizard combined with the HSMWorks Drill Wizard is a sight to behold. It demos bloody well, but frankly it impresses because it’s a huge productivity tool and it WORKS! Well from the testing I have done it works, I have no doubt people can break it. This bolted connection tool in Fusion 360, looks to deal with some of the shortcomings found in Inventor’s hole tool, the most obvious of them is the ability for this tool to place a hole on a curved surface. I hope to see this turn into a really powerful hole & bolted connection tool, if it does, as I stated previously it should drive long overdue improvement of the Inventor Design Accelerator tools as well. Incidentally, if a SolidWorkesque Hole Wizard is something you would like to see in Inventor, I’ve created an Inventor Hole Wizard idea on the Ideastation you can vote for.

What’s New in Autodesk Simulation Products for 2015

 

Autodesk Simulation Products for 2015Autodesk has been working on their Simulation products both in the cloud and on desktop platforms.

This year’s lineup will include:

  • Autodesk Simulation Mechanical
  • Autodesk Simulation CFD
  • Autodesk Simulation Moldflow
  • Autodesk Simulation Composite Design
  • Autodesk Simulation Composite Analysis
  • Autodesk Robot and Structural Analysis
  • Autodesk Simulation 360

The changes to the products vary, and the following is simply a highlight of the big ticket items. We’ll go into more usability and performance enhancements in detail as product specific information becomes available in the weeks to come.

Autodesk Simulation Portfolio for 2015

Autodesk Simulation Mechanical

  • Decoupled design scenarios
  • Asynchronous workflows with Solver Manager
  • Non-Linear contact manager
  • Usability Enhancements in Linear Dynamics
  • Free Surface Models

Autodesk Simulation CFD

  • Advanced turbulence models
  • Simplified heat sink models
  • Refrigerant phase change

Autodesk Simulation Moldflow

  • Microchip encapsulation
  • Enhanced Speed and accuracy with Linux Support
  • Gate freeze accuracy improvements
  • Warpage and overmolding capabilities
  • Conformal Cooling Channel analysis with Simulation CFD

Autodesk Simulation 360

  • Thermal Stress derived from CFD results

Autodesk Simulation Composite

The announcement  of Autodesk’s purchase of Firehole Composites isn’t really news, but this is the first release cycle that the products have been featured in, so we are listing them here.

The Helius: Composite Pro product is featured as Autodesk Simulation Composite Design and gives users the ability to design simple structures and receive basic structural feedback without having to perform laborious hand calculations and approximate material constants.

Their Helius: MCT now becomes Autodesk Simulation Composite Analysis and offers a more complete and comprehensive analysis tool that includes my favorite addition: delamination prediction.

Don’t forget to check out Scott’s Product and Factory Design Suite changes for 2015.

Images shown hereon were furnished by Autodesk, Inc.

FORE! CFD just went mainstream

A couple of weeks ago John & I got to Interview Autodesk Product Marketing Manager, SimulationLuke Mihelcic. Some of you will have read about Autodesk’s launch of Autodesk Flow Design. Some of you may have even seen it feature as part of the Super Bowl. I don’t know about you lot, but we were pretty impressed that Autodesk managed to feature so prominently as part of the jewel in the crown of America’s greatest past time (some might say). Luke did an incredible job of fielding alternating questions from New Zealand and Florida simultaneously, while we all had fun doing so. Anyway, let’s crack on with the goods shall we?

Note: This interview wasn’t recorded unfortunately, so Luke’s responses have been paraphrased throughout.

Autodesk Inventor Flow Design FORD Pickup

D&M: Why didn’t Autodesk Flow Design get a standard Autodesk Simulation name?

Luke: With Autodesk Flow design we are targeting the designer market, rather than the traditional simulation audience. Flow Design is very similar to Autodesk Simulation DFM (Design For Manufacturability) in the sense they are both purpose built with a narrow focus. It does one thing and does it very well. Not only do we have the standalone version, but both Inventor and Revit have Add-Ins. This introduces a familiar ease of use and level of feedback appropriate for an associate degree level individual and maybe an engineer. Additionally it’s very geometry tolerant, unlike full blown simulation tools. With this in mind it’s quite likely Flow Design will mostly be used for mechanical or architectural products. That’s why simulation isn’t in the name, it’s more about helping to guide the design & make sure the basic design specifications are being met at an early stage. I know one of the things we want to do is build purpose built tools for specific applications, so don’t be surprised if you see more purpose built tools.

D&M: Is there a cost benefit?

Luke: Cost benefit is tough to measure, but there definitely is one. For example, you currently do wind tunnel testing.  Every time you do a different configuration, you are charged for that configuration.  With Flow Design, however, you can reduce the number of physical wind tunnel tests by optimizing your design and possible configuration before you go to the testing facility.

In addition, you’re not doing any wind tunnel testing or conceptual design simulation. A problem with design later in the development process causes you to have to re-work it when it’s more expensive. Had you used Flow Design early in the process, however, you could have optimized the design and reduced the amount of design re-work.

D&M: Is Autodesk changing tack slightly with this? In the sense that this tool seems more appropriate for pre-design, whereas the full blown simulation tools are more appropriate for post design validation?

Luke: We’re not changing, but adding a new tactic instead. We’re trying to create a new audience since no one is creating these designer level tools.

D&M: How are you making it easier to understand the results?

Luke: Flow design basically just gives you lift & drag results. As long as you know what they are, you can look at what those mean & look at changing the design to alter those figures. One of the most powerful aspects to Flow Design is the CAD application integration. This translates to the ability to adjust the design and receive immediate feedback. Ideally designers don’t want to wait for a simulation to run, so that feedback needs to be fast and Flow Design doesn’t disappoint. As you play around with the design and see the result of those changes, it builds your understanding of the results, it teaches you to recognise better results. So in that respect, the visuals give you the lion’s share of the feedback for those who don’t understand that as much. For example, you might want to try to limit recirculation & streamline flow etc… It’s really about the visuals, just like DFM.

D&M: This brings up the next question nicely… Is the solver desktop based?

Luke: Autodesk Flow Design is not a cloud solving tool, it runs extremely fast locally. The development team have done a lot of creative things under the hood to achieve this. In most cases the product videos on our website & around the web are showing the tool running on a standard mobile workstation!

ANSYS Fluent & Autodesk Flow Design comparison

D&M: Have you done any benchmarking of this solver against wind tunnel results?

In terms of validation documents, you can access those materials here.  In addition, Luke wanted to pass along an even more detailed PDF with links to relevant information.

D&M: The validation document makes for interesting reading. It really is impressive how close Autodesk Flow Design is relative to highly respected & much more costly CFD software.

D&M: Is there any reason why this didn’t go straight onto the 360 platform?

Luke: Project Falcon was developed as an Autodesk LABS tool almost a full year before we had any cloud simulation tools. That said, we wanted to create tools that work where designers are using them now, and that is currently on the desktop. As designers and our target audience migrate to the cloud, however, we will re-evaluate how we want to deliver Flow Design.

D&M: What enhancements have been made since Project Falcon and prior to full release?

Luke: Most of the enhancements were within the User Interface. This started out as a very successful Labs project, but when people are being charged money they have difference expectations, so we added some polish to fulfil those. Performance has also been greatly improved, it’s pretty amazing seeing it running inside Autodesk Inventor. With regards to functionality, there aren’t any new tools, it’s still all about wind speed & direction.

D&M: Does it handle multi fluids? Such as water & air flow analysis for marine applications?

Luke: There have been a few requests for multi fluids. But it’s air only at the moment. The challenge with water, is most people want it to be free surface, which is a whole ‘nuther ball of wax, it really is full blown CFD. Plus it doesn’t really fit the target audience. The person wanting to do free surface simulation is probably a full blown engineer or analyst. So we probably won’t see that coming. In addition it’s purely external airflow, so it’s no good for pumps etc.

D&M: Which area do you see this specific focused approach to simulation being used next?

Luke: Designers already have crazy ‘early on’ tools already, such as the Force Effect group of applications. We really want to make sure we have the right tool, for the right person, at the right time in the design process. We have done a really good job hitting people with mid-range tools & then full on high end SIM tools with CFD & Mold Flow. We will probably start to see ‘point tools’ to address the gap between Pre-Design and Post-Design, along the lines of tools seen in Inventor Professional, DFM & Flow Design are recent examples. This is how I see the really high level general road map.

Autodesk Simulation DFM

D&M: How have users reacted to the Inventor Add-in vs the standalone application?

Luke: The functionality is identical between the two. The add-in allows real-time modification, whereas the standalone application extends Flow Design out to Non Inventor and Revit users. The feedback has been hugely positive, especially in relation to how geometry tolerant it is. You just don’t have to clean up geometry, there’s no mesh for the user to deal with, and you just run your simulation.

D&M: What kind of adoption have you seen?

Luke: Well that’s to be determined. We will see more clearly once the Labs project expires.

D&M: Which industries are most prevalent?

Luke: With Autodesk Revit having an Add-In, the AEC industry can study any adverse effects of their designs. Of course there’s a lot of opportunity within the automotive industry, such as people making components and after-market parts. A lot of start companies would likely find this useful. The Morgan Motor Company is a great example of a company that could benefit in the early stages of their designs.

Autodesk Revit Flow Design City high rise simulation

D&M: So what does it cost?

Luke: $35 USD per month, or $210 per annum. We’re only offering term licenses which can only be purchased on our e-store. At this stage it’s only available in English. Unfortunately there’s a technical issue preventing us from selling it in Brazil at this stage. Our team is working on resolving it ASAP.

D&M: What support is available for Flow Design?

Luke: Basic support is included which will primarily be executed via email and the Autodesk support forums.

D&M: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us Luke, as always it was a pleasure!

Design and Motion have been given access to Flow Design, so we will setup it up and take it for a spin. Keep an eye out for a post in the next couple of weeks.

To cap off this interview, take a look at Flow Design in action at Super Bowl XLVIII in the videos below:

What does everyone think about this Designer tailored approach to simulation? Let us know in the comments below.

Special thanks to the Autodesk PR team for choreographing the supporting information for this interview.


 

Simulation Mechanical | Contact Layer Tip

Autodesk Simulation Mechanical Layer ControlDid you want to see exactly how Autodesk Simulation Mechanical is interpreting your contact pairs? This is how!

Layer Control

Head over to the Draw tab on the Ribbon. In the Design Panel you should see Layer Control. Picking this will start a small dialog that controls the visibility of the layers in the current model.

Autodesk Simulation Mechanical Layer 15 contact surface

Uncheck all but Layer 15. This contains the contact pair mesh. In the image above a large surface from each mating component was selected to define the contact. The result on Layer 15 shows how Simulation Mechanical interpreted that contact.


 

Simulation Mechanical | Adjust Inventor Parameters

Autodesk Simulation Mechanical 2013 Adjust Inventor ParametersDid you want direct access to the CAD model parameters in a more powerful simulation and analysis software? Autodesk Simulation Mechanical 2013 allows you to change the Autodesk Inventor Parameters and update the CAD model on the fly without having to start Inventor.

Inventor Parameters

This awesome addition can be found on the Ribbon’s Mesh tab, in the Cad Additions panel.

Starting this will invoke a dialog containing all the Inventor parameters and their relation to Inventor’s modeled features.

Autodesk Simulation Mechanical 2013 Adjust Inventor Parameters

The adjustments are developed in real time, from inside Simulation Mechanical/s interface. In the image above I adjusted the thickness parameter slightly to close the gap between contact surfaces. You can easily adjust parameters to add or remove mass in different scenarios.

Autodesk Inventor Parameter Change comparison in Simulation Mechanical 2013

In this example, I reduced the thickness from 0.040” to 0.010”.

TIP: after adjusting a parameter, pick the Update button. This applies the changes and rebuilds the model. If you don’t use the Update button, the changes are simply stored in the dialog, but the model does not change.

Changes and Caution

Autodesk Simulation Mechanical 2013 Editor after change     Autodesk inventor file remains unharmed after Simulation Mechanical adjustment

It clearly appears as though Simulation Mechanical is returning to the original CAD model and making changes there, before reimporting the model. In the image above you may notice all the suppressed features. These were not present in the initial CAD import as they were suppressed in the Inventor Level Of Detail. After making the thickness adjustment, the model is rebuilt and suddenly all the other components were imported.

I thought the inventor file was being manipulated permanently, however this does not appear to be the case. The image to the upper right shows the Inventor file which was opened directly after the Simulation Mechanical parameter adjustment. The Shell thickness remains the same inside Inventor. (I was a bit worried to tell you the truth Smile)

Autodesk Simulation Mechanical model changed in all scenaiosI took a look at my Thermal Analysis scenario, and unfortunately the model rebuild also affected that scenario as well. I was hoping that the parameters and subsequent adjustments could be maintained differently in each scenario, but that does not appear to be the case either. The image to the right shows how the previously solved Transient Thermal analysis is now arranged. Uggghh. I can always suppress them in the FEA Editor and rerun if necessary.

Simulation TV

James Herzing, mastermind at the Autodesk Sim Squad, provided a good video at Simulation TV on using this feature. Here’s the video.

James Herzing discusses using Inventor Parameters within Simulation Mechanical 2013

http://vp.telvue.com/preview?id=T01885&video=62744

Closing Thoughts

I like the ability to make the adjustments to Inventor Parameters. However, with the benefit comes a cost: Be very aware of your FEA build and results, and be prepared to rerun your analyses after the change.