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Tackling complexity in design

To make smarter decisions and create better products, engineers should be turning to integrated design platforms that can solve multiple physics simultaneously, says Jan Larsson

Multiphysics simulation addresses the reality that physical phenomena do not operate singly in nature. Simply put, design engineers are running more and more multiphysics simulations because they need to add reality into their increasingly complex models.

But being able to simulate the impact of different concurrent physical elements is only half the battle. The other half of the battle comes in providing an environment in which engineers from each discipline can collaborate on simulations and analysis, and efficiently feed the results back into the design loop without manual intervention.

To meet these challenges, designers require a tool like Siemens PLM Software’s NX software, which provides an end-to-end product design platform. NX streamlines the process of conducting multiphysics simulation by delivering an integrated environment that links advanced geometry modelling and coupled physics analyses together and eliminates the need for error-prone external data transfers.

Fully integrated multiphysics simulation workflows allow engineers to spend more time simulating the product under conditions that more accurately represent the real world. But the true value is that it makes it easier to feed back results into the design process. This allows for more product trade-off decisions as designers can evaluate different attributes based on the same design state – which is very difficult when building independent models for each physics scenario.

It is a unified platform that holds the key to ongoing success and development of multiphysics simulation

Jan Larsson, Siemens PLM Software
A tightly integrated design platform allows for 3D design, finite element modelling and analysis, and data management to be carried out using common data models over multiple design possibilities. This streamlines the design iteration process and so engineers can quickly eliminate designs that have a low probability of success.

When components and designs can be easily simulated across all operating requirements, the results can be more readily fed back into the design process and used to refine the product as a whole. The development lifecycle has less manual work and more efficient upstream and downstream modelling and simulation interfacing. Furthermore, not having to re-enter data into multiple applications rules out a potential source of error.

Of course, despite the massive leaps and bounds that have been taken within the design and multiphysics testing arenas, there is still a long way to go. The multiphysics capabilities available continue to evolve as more physics domains are integrated into a common environment. Besides spanning more disciplines simultaneously and introducing new physics domains, simulation technologies will also need to handle larger models with greater accuracy and speed.

This will require an improvement in the algorithms used as well as scaling up the required computational power. Applications that deal with each element of the simulation will also need to be interoperable at every level. More importantly, the results must be easily interpretable by different systems or elements of an integrated design platform.

A combination of smarter design systems, greater interdisciplinary collaboration and the ongoing increase in computational power are helping to meet the ever evolving demands for everything from a more resilient space probe to a better mousetrap. But it is a unified platform that holds the key to ongoing success and development of multiphysics simulation.

Jan Larsson is senior marketing director EMEA, Product Engineering Software at Siemens PLM Software. This article was originally published in the Autumn 2013 issue of Prime

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