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Tag Archives: simulation/FEA

Autodesk Simulation Nastran Launch : Why NASTRAN? Why NEi?

After returning from the Autodesk Nastran Launch a couple of weeks ago, I discussed the company’s need to upgrade their simulation technologies. Large manufacturing industry segments lean towards software that can handle very complex studies; some specialized industries need tools that can perform studies that are quite complex in nature.

Unless Autodesk decides to invest heavily in developing innovative methods of computing large complex structure arrays as well as numerous solving algorithms, a quick stop at the local stock exchange to pick up some existing intellectual property might be a better way to go.

So Autodesk decided to go the purchase route, and pull in NEi’s Nastran solver variant which is a truly wonderful tool to have in house.

Why Nastran?

Nastran is universally recognized as the defacto Finite-Entity Analysis (FEA) standard, having been developed by NASA in the late 1960’s. The code was quickly released to the public, and as of the spring of 2014, three large companies develop their own enhanced brand of Nastran, namely MacNeal-Schwendler Corporation (MSC), Siemens PLM Software, and NEi Software. These companies have spent decades developing their Nastran variants.

The Nastran solver capabilities include:

  • Linear Static and Steady-State Heat Transfer
  • Normal Modes, Buckling, and Prestress
  • Advanced Dynamics
  • Nonlinear Analysis
  • Nonlinear Transient Heat Transfer

Autodesk’s Simulation Business Line Manager, Vic Vendantham, noted during the briefing that,

“…Nastran is already a standard, a brand, in fact it’s an eco-system that revolves around trusted, accurate, powerful, efficient and robust capabilities. The aerospace industry is already standardized on Nastran as a platform, and we have this unique opportunity … to take this and develop it and offer it to our customers.”

Autodesk Nastran Analysis capabilities

Autodesk’s purchase of a NEi Nastran fills numerous gaps in their simulation offerings, adding more complex and powerful non-linear capabilities, more efficiency, and gives the company a scalable platform from which to move ahead.

Why NEi?

That is probably a better question. The answer is almost as simple.

NEi Nastran is the youngest of the big-three variants, and as such was likely in a better position to be purchased. Better still, the NEi IP includes some nice solutions and integrations that reach beyond the standard analyses you’d expect from Nastran, including*:

  • Tension only cable and shell elements
  • Multi-layer isotropic and orthotropic composite analysis support
  • Progressive Ply Failure Analysis (PPFA™)
  • Automated Surface Contact Generation (ASCG™)
  • Automated Edge Contact Generation (AECG™)
  • Automated Impact Analysis (AIA™)
  • Numerous 3rd party aviation specific software integrations

…and much more.

Autodesk NEi Nastran Acquisition Launch Vic Vendantham

Vic emphasized some advantages NEi offered and noted,

“NEi Software has done an incredible job working to establish themselves as the industry standard for aerospace…Autodesk is in a unique position where we can take that and expand it to a variety of industry segments.”

Additionally, Firehole Composites (or the company formerly known as Firehole Composites), partnered with NEi Software around 2010 in order to deliver some of the Helius:MCT composite technology noted above to NEi Nastran users. That technology is currently owned by Autodesk in their Simulation Composite Analysis software, and many users of Autodesk products including myself, were looking forward to that technology being handed down to other CAD and simulation products. Autodesk now has a great opportunity to deliver these.

Mitch Muncy, Simulation Product Manager for Autodesk (Formerly the Executive Vice-President of NEi Software) stated that one of the important factors in this purchase was NEi having aligned themselves with Autodesk’s efforts in software development. This permitting the extremely fast Nastran rebranding and immediate integration into Autodesk’s existing software. During his discussion, Mitch pointed out:

“We wanted to be industry leaders in composites, so we were focused on putting in advanced technologies…Nastran has strong capabilities in a wide range of uses, but we also wanted to make it easy to use.”

Possibly the most compelling reason for purchasing NEi is their Nastran In-CAD product that was built for the SolidWorks CAD environment. Autodesk has successfully integrated other SolidWorks based purchases into their Flagship Inventor 3D CAD software in the past. This purchase gives Autodesk Inventor users the full power of Nastran including non-linear solutions, right inside their CAD environment. That product is already being marketed as Autodesk Nastran In-CAD 2015.

Vic added,

“One of the big assets that NEi Software brings to the table is the extensive industry expertise that they have put in place. They have already focused on advanced materials… so there is an opportunity for us to very quickly make an impact through advanced materials technology. NEi Software also has expertise in the aerospace industry, and we see this as an opportunity to continue to contribute in that space as well as push into other industries like automotive for example”.

Autodesk Nastran Launch Future Success

Thoughts

Nastran is wonderful. I have enjoyed working with Siemens PLM FEMAP / NX Nastran and am looking forward to seeing how NEi’s (now Autodesk’s) variant handles some problems I have encountered. The benefits from this purchase seem innumerable, and nearly impossible to choose my favorite; Scalability, Non-linear materials in Autodesk Inventor, specialized aeronautical studies integration? Autodesk has already let some of the solver technology loose, which we will look at in our next issue.

References and sources

* Information gathered from the NEi Nastran website

Images courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.

Autodesk Releases Official Statement about NEi Nastran Purchase

The morning of our Autodesk Nastran press briefing in Lake Oswego, Autodesk released this official announcement regarding the NEi Nastran purchase.

The company has officially purchased the NEi intellectual property including NEi Nastran engine, one of the industry’s relied upon non-linear analysis solvers. While this doesn’t really change a lot for Siemens FEMAP users licensing the NEi Nastran solver for example, it does put the solver direction and intelligence directly in Autodesk’s lap.

This has allowed them to add Autdesk Nastran 2015 to Simulation Mechanical already, and to offer a new product for Autodesk Inventor and D’assault SolidWorks users called Autodesk Nastran In-CAD.

Autodesk Nastran In-CAD - Inventor Overview

The press release offered the following statement from Ian Pendlebury, Senior Director of Simulation at Autodesk:

“Since 2005 Autodesk has been consistently adding new technology to its Simulation platform with the goal of building a comprehensive cloud-based portfolio that spans Finite Element Analysis, Computational Fluid Dynamics, plastics and composite solutions…Autodesk’s acquisition of NEi Software and the introduction of Autodesk Nastran and Autodesk Nastran In-CAD reinforce this long-term strategy to broaden our footprint in the mechanical simulation market as part of Autodesk’s Digital Prototyping toolset.”

After the press meeting this week, we were able to sit down with Autodesk and NEi’s executives and discuss the direction the company is taking and exactly how much of the NEi IP was purchased. Those details and more will follow this announcement.

YouTube imagery and video furnished courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.

Design Highlights for August

NASA Develops Multi-Alloy 3D Printing Process – RT.com

August 3rd, 2014. image Researchers at NASA’s Pasadena based Jet Propulsion Lab are actively working with a process that 3D prints an object composed of more than one metal alloy. The team has been working on the project since 2010, after being inspired by wanting to improve on methods of combining parts made from different materials. The team has developed a method of changing the metal powder at will, and using a customized laser sintering process that adds layers tangentially on a rotating shaft. The article noted gradient alloy objects have been developed in the past, but not with definitive separate parts in a single mass. Some possible uses were proposed such as an object with different melting temperatures, densities and even magnetic properties.

Edit:

A far more detailed review was found at Design Engineering.com, discussing the linear process that has been developed, some drawbacks with brittleness and their workarounds. Additionally, Design Engineering pointed to the full scientific report on the radial deposit process.

The Diverging State of PDM – Lifecycle Insights

By Chad Jackson on Friday, March 28th, 2014. image I enjoyed reading Chad Jackson’s take on the changes that are taking place in the data management space especially after we did our look to 2015. Chad noted how the Product Data Management (PDM) across the industry began to more towards the cloud in a similar path, but sometimes different methodologies. The thing that was significant to all is that everyone was moving together in a common direction. However since 2013 things have begun to fragment, and Chad discusses specific examples of how this is starting to occur, and what the strategies are behind these diverging methodologies. I liked Chad’s statement here:

“This stands as the antithesis of Autodesk’s and Dassault Systèmes approach, which is the automate the manage and tracking of changes as much as possible. GrabCAD’s approach is to give the market what they want. The approach for Autodesk’s and Dassault Systèmes is to be more visionary. [SIC]“

Siemens CAE & Test Symposium 2014 – Siemens

“Smarter Decisions, Better Products” image Siemens has announced their CAE & Test Symposium that is planned for October 22-23, 2014 on a boat of all things – Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. This is the former NX CAE Symposium. Siemens has rebranded the symposium to reflect their expanded capabilities especially after the purchase of LMS International NV in 2012. This should represent the entire lineup of testing and simulation software under their roof. LMS, by the way, was a strategic acquisition and gave Siemens some well-regarded capabilities. Here is a quote from the Siemens 2012 press release: “Siemens will become the first product lifecycle management (PLM) software company to provide a closed-loop systems-driven product development solution extending all the way to integrated test management.” I’d really like to attend this symposium to see how they intent on moving forward with all the luggage they are now carrying.

The One True Part Number System – GrabCAD

By Ed Lopategui on August 5th, 2014. imageEd did a great job on this somewhat humorous write-up, looking at the differences between people’s (often heated) arguments over structured vs. non-structured part numbers. There is significant truth in both arguments, but Ed called for a balance and flexibility that allowed for things to work together. Some items he suggested are:

  • A temporary pool of simple numbers in early-stage design
  • Easy re-identification
  • Gaps in numbering to permit grouping
  • Numbers evolve as the design matures
  • Include only the minimum information, and decide how much that will be.

What is interesting is that these might be considered what GrabCAD has in the works for their Workbench service, which is rapidly evolving as we speak, and has a lot of eyes on it (including my own).

Ansys Acquires SpaceClaim

ANSYS acquires SpaceClaimANSYS announced on April 30th, 2014 that it has purchased SpaceClaim for the sum of $85 million in cash. Now that is a very interesting turn of events. Why? Because it puts ANSYS in the position to offer a well established history-free CAD software to a world that is demanding similar performance, all the while paving the path to a simulation driven manufacturing market populated by their well regarded (and often major client demanded) analysis software.

SpaceClaim’s history-free modeling platform allows users to create and manipulate any 3D-CAD models, no matter what software created them. Having SpaceClaim’s clean UI and history free CAD option with ANSYS software should mark a significant point in the ANSYS “Simulation Driven Product Development” strategy.

The Press Release

The announcement made by ANSYS in this press release also noted:

“This transaction is consistent with our strategic vision and M&A criteria, and accelerates our technological product roadmap to enhance our customer offering and drive growth,” said Jim Cashman, president and CEO of ANSYS. “SpaceClaim is an exciting addition to our portfolio, as it addresses unmet 3D modeling needs in the conceptual modeling, manufacturing and 3D printing spaces, which represents an audience of 5 million users. In addition to driving innovation, the addition of SpaceClaim helps ANSYS accelerate the growth of the simulation market by broadening our user base from analysts and expert users to the millions of design and systems engineers in the industry. We welcome the SpaceClaim team to ANSYS.”

Market Review

Some other interesting points noted by Monica Schnitger’s analysis:

  • ANSYS and SpaceClaim have been partners since 2007
  • ANSYS expects SpaceClaim’s revenue to be around $14 million this year
  • SpaceClaim’s 50 or so employees have moved to ANSYS except CEO Chris Randles and CFO Gregory Stott.
  • SpaceClaim has sold ~50,000 seats since the first release of its software
  • ANSYS states that the purchase will not affect the neutrality of the ANSYS model

She goes on to look at the expectation that ANSYS will be able to use this to expand it’s user base to 5 million seats. That’s a far reach from the noted 145000 seats of ANSYS in use (as of 2011). She however points out the long haul strategy [ed. umm.. REALLY long haul] that considers the 25 million engineers in manufacturing’s needs for better simulation and analysis capabilities, and 1.1 million commercial CAD seats. While most don’t want to move to simulation, some do, and many more will require it in the future.

My thoughts

Will ANSYS integrate SpaceClaim’s technology into their own CAD systems? No one has stated on way or another, but they certainly have the talent pool now. My thoughts are beginning to turn to certain CAD vendors that offer new modeling technologies alongside well positioned simulation platforms, and what this might mean for them.

What is certain is that ANSYS has a great opportunity to continue to market and sell SpaceClaim’s great CAD platform to the industry’s greater demand for history free, easy-to-use CAD software, while paving the way for CAD users, both old and new, to adopt ANSYS simulation.

Image from ANSYS.com

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.

Autodesk Simulation Event at Destin Florida

Autodesk Simulation Panhandle FloridaThe Autodesk Simulation team is providing a simulation seminar in Destin, Florida, and will likely represent the first time the team has come within 100 miles of the area. The event will be held on Thursday, February 20th, 2014 at Regatta Bay Country Club starting at 12:00 hours (That’s noon for the uninitiated).

Address:

Regatta Bay Country Club

Members Lounge Conference Room

465 Regatta Bay Blvd.

Destin, FL 32541

The event is hosted by the Emerald Coast Autodesk Users Group. Tickets are provided through the following link:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/autodesk-simulation-florida-panhandle-emerald-coast-user-group-tickets-9506579435

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