Autodesk recently released it’s 2012 product line, rolling most of its design portfolio into suites. The suites combined with seamless model transfers help pave the way for a substantially better Digital Prototyping process, in which simulation is a major player. Furthermore, the company is really pushing their Simulation platform for 2012.

  • Every design suite contains some form of simulation
  • The Autodesk Simulation software line has expanded and grown in capability
  • Their simulation twitter presence tripled overnight
image26_thumb[3]_thumb Why? Because they spent half a BILLION dollars on Simulation technology in an effort to emerge as the broadest provider of design and engineering CAD software solutions.  I just like the sound of that. Say it – (and swing it like Chris Rock) “Half-a- BILLion–Dollars”. I guess if I spent that much moolah on anything, I’d probably shout it from the rooftops too

The funny thing is, none of the hardcore simulation and analysis products are in a Suite. So I went to find out more about some of the 2012 simulation products online, and you know what I found? Basic press releases, and not much in those.

So I set out to gather a decent collection of information about Autodesk’s Simulation offerings. So I gathered my notes from Tech Day, chats with friends and the Sim Squad, and compiled this groups of product highlights.

Fusion Integration

imageAutodesk Fusion graduated from Autodesk Labs to be integrated into nearly every aspect of Autodesk Product Design Simulation of the 2012 release cycle. This pairing offers a streamlined approach to adjusting specific aspects of a design during the analysis process.

Direct modeling tools and an easy to learn interface makes Fusion a great companion in the Simulation process. Models can be sent from their simulation environments straight to Autodesk Fusion with the push of a button. You can then drag faces, thicken ribs, etc., and send the result back to the simulation environment for immediate update.

Fusion offers model import from numerous formats beyond DWG and Inventor, including Catia and Pro-E. It goes on to provide model simplification which helps reduce the complexity of components in the analysis process, where the complexity adds nothing to the integrity, and only slows down the simulation.

Fusion technology integration can preserve the parametric relationships within a model from Inventor, and maintain these during direct modeling edits, making Fusion an extremely powerful component in Autodesk’s simulation portfolio.

“It’s the front end modeler for all our simulation tools. For Moldflow, for our new Autodesk Simulation Mechanical tools…That’ll give them real easy way to import data from other places, to edit it, to simplify it, prep it for Simulation work.” noted Buzz Kross, Vice-President of Autodesk’s Manufacturing Division, in an interview with Rob Cohee.

Autodesk Moldflow

Autodesk Plastic Part Simulation solutions include Moldflow Adviser and Moldflow Insight. These products likely have the greatest amount of enhancements for any software in the 2012 product cycle.

Moldflow Adviser

image_thumb_thumbMoldflow Adviser (MFA) is the entry level product that provides analysis and simulation of plastic parts, and is chosen by those that need optimized plastic part design without too much overhead (and cost) for mold design analysis.

MFA has a standalone interface for analyzing parts, and loads extensions onto the Inventor, that perform real time analysis of thermoplastic part design Inside of the Inventor modeling environment. An indicator at the bottom of the Graphics View Area displays the basic analysis of the part in relation to part geometry and material type for three factors:

  • Manufacturability – Performance of thermoplastic parts in the mold; features such as undercuts and face draft
  • Cost – The relative cost of materials used in relation to the other options available
  • Plastic Material (Environmental) Impact – carbon footprint, recyclability,  and production costs.

image16_thumb[1]_thumbThe following are some additional product highlights:

Vault and Fusion Integration

Injection Fill Pattern

Fill Patterns can be analyzed based on part geometry and injection points. Injection points can be added and removed and repositioned as needed. Fluid time and temperature are evaluated for potential injection problems.

Physical Defects

Weld lines can be identified on the model, permitting better decisions about potential issues requiring reinforcement in high stress areas, or where injection ports need to be adjusted. Sink marks can now be displayed on the part via the MFA display within the Inventor environment, a technology that was originally developed in 2010 for Autodesk Showcase. The designer can identify how the deformations will appear on the finished component and make necessary adjustments to injection port locations, without having to setup Showcase, or wait for the finished product to come out of the mold.

Real Time Meshing

Each time any changes are made to the model in Inventor, Mold Flow re-meshes it and updates the analysis and display instantaneous

Moldflow Insight

Moldflow Insight is a standalone software that goes far beyond Moldflow Adviser in simulation and optimization of both plastic part as well as mold designs.  The software is suited to those who need a whole suite of advanced plastic part and mold analysis technology. Following are are some of capabilities only found in Moldflow insight

  • Vault and Fusion Integration
  • Advanced simulation and optimization
  • Fiber reinforcement alignment shift during injection
  • Access to assemblies
  • Multi-stage process and over-molding analysis
  • Three times as many Injection methods
  • Additional Mold and Part materials



Moldflow Insight delivers the ability to perform Design of Experiments (DOE), which are multiple instances of analysis. Similar to the Autodesk Labs Optimization Project, DOE allows you to establish numerous combinations of factors, and variations of those factors, and analyze them simultaneously in parallel. The results are can be reviewed as a group rather than individually, making it much easier to compare the instances, and ultimately choose the best instance to move forward with.

The DOE capability has been broadened to include all mesh types, molding processes, and simulation tools. The parallel analysis are run across multiple processor cores, and this capability can actually be directed by the user, to apply more or less cores to each instance.

Moldflow also harnesses the computational power of the NVIDIA GPU, using CUDA technology for multiple core processor support. The minimum required hardware is a CUDA-enabled card capable of double-precision (64-bit floating point precision) computations, utilizing CUDA Compute Capability of 1.3 or higher.

Autodesk offers a great page showing the comparison of all the Moldflow Simulation Products.

Autodesk Inventor

image11_thumb_thumbAutodesk Inventor still contains the Simulation, Stress Analysis, and Frame Analysis that it did in 2011.

  • Vault and Fusion Integration
  • Rigid Body Kinematics
  • Linear Static Stress
  • Natural Frequency (Modal) Analysis

2012 streamlines theses capabilities with substantially improved workflows in joints and my favorite enhancement, the ability to transfer loads seamlessly from the Simulation to Stress Analysis Environments on the fly.

Autodesk Simulation

Autodesk Algor, one of Autodesk’s purchases in the last three years, has been renamed to Autodesk Simulation. While I love anything with the name simulation strapped to it, ‘Autodesk Simulation’ has begun to seem confusing, especially when entering into a discussion half way through.

Are they talking about simulation in general, or are we talking about ‘Autodesk Simulation Mechanical’, the software title?

I suppose they wanted to make it their own. Personally, if I purchased Ferrari, I’d still keep the name Ferrari.

Simulation Mechanical

Autodesk Simulation Mechanical starts by providing all the capabilities of simulation and linear stress analysis that Inventor offers. It goes on to deliver thermal, drop-test, and fatigue capabilities that I have often needed, and an incredible array of higher order linear and non-linear analysis.


  • Vault and Fusion Integration

Linear Analysis

  • Static and Transient Stress
  • Natural Frequency – Material and Geometry
  • Frequency Response and Response Spectrum
  • Random Vibration
  • Transient Stress
  • Critical Load Buckling
  • Dynamic Design Analysis Method

Non-Linear Analysis

  • Mechanical Event Simulation
  • Natural Frequency and Static Stress in non-linear Materials
  • Steady State and Transient Heat Analysis

New Elements

  • Shell and Plate

Simulation Multi-Physics

image1_thumb[1]_thumbAutodesk Simulation Multi-Physics puts Autodesk simulation capabilities on the map with layered dynamic simulation and analysis technologies. Multi-physics adds:

  • Vault and Fusion Integration
  • Steady and Unsteady Fluid Flow
  • Flow through Porous Media
  • Electrostatic
  • Transient Mass Transfer

Coupled Layering of Dynamics

The true power of Multi-Physics lies in the ability to simulate multiple effects simultaneously, and be able to evaluate how those compounding factors affect the design.  Simulations such as:


image21_thumb1_thumbAutodesk purchased Blue Ridge Numerics recently to obtain CFdesign, the amazingly powerful and very advanced fluid flow and thermal simulation and analysis tool, including heat transfer from a fluid to non-fluid components.  Some of the product features are:

  • Design Variations from various formats – support for Pro-E Instances, Solidworks Configurations, and of course iAssemblies in Inventor
  • Design Study Builder – Direct design environment capability, multiple analysis instances established in seconds
  • Boundary and Material Conditions automatically transfer to CFdesign
  • Decision Center – Drag and drop comparison of results from multiple instances
  • CFdesign is reported to be twice as fast as its previous releases.Autodesk announced the purchase of Blue-Ridge Numerics to coincide with the 2012 product release.

“…It matches our objective to allow our customers to simulate everything about their design. It’s one of the big key missing pieces we had.” said Buzz when asked about CFdesign

It is apparent that the companies have obviously worked together for some time due to the amazing CAD software integration with systems like Inventor and Revit. The actual possession of the product is still quite new, and nothing is officially being stated about the timeline before CFdesign is rebranded and shipped with the streamlined Autodesk interface. However what Autodesk will say is that you can project the same timeline from the Algor acquisition and similar purchases, to when changes should appear.

Autodesk Navisworks

image_thumb[6]Autodesk Navisworks is a simulation environment for any form of development where building is completed in phases, and where simulated progress over time is needed. Large scale building and site development as well as factory development all find a great home in Navisworks.

If this tool is known for anything. it’s the ability to import numerous model formats, and handling huge datasets, and handling them very well. Navisworks can simulate everything from I-beams and scaffolding, to conveyors and delivery vehicles. It’s an amazing product.

Another great function is clash detection. Autodesk Factory Design Suite features Navisworks Manage, which delivers a full range of factory equipment simulation and clash detection between components as well as structures to help designers and engineers avoid costly field adjustment. Here is a Navisworks 2011 Overview. Also check out AUGI magazine next month for an awesome Implementation guide for Autodesk Factory Design Suite 2012, using Navisworks Manage.

Here’s a great comparison chart for the Navisworks 2012 product line from Adtech

The Autodesk Sim Squad

The Sim Squad is still the ultimate reference for Autodesk Simulation products. Here’s a great video with Bob Williams and Rob Cohee describing the overall Simulation Portfolio. Bob is the Product Marketing Manager for Autodesk Simulation, and a member of the Autodesk Sim Squad.

Compressing the Design Process

The Autodesk simulation technology portfolio has been streamlined and made accessible throughout the digital prototyping process in an effort to democratize the technology. Autodesk’s position is that making these capabilities available to Engineers, Designers, and Analysts alike will substantially shorten the design process. Additionally, Vault and Fusion are integrated into all the current simulation applications. The combination of these factors allows the designer to run preliminary analysis of products in an earlier state of design, and setup the analysis for the reviewing engineer and analyst, both of which can cut substantial time off a project.