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Simulation: no longer limited to experts.

Gone are the days of blueprints and pencils. Simulation is the way to design products--and it's getting more sophisticated.

It's no longer down solely to an engineer's judgement when it comes to estimating the velocity of fluid flow, material thickness, or anything else. Software does these assumptions for you--but the problem is that one usually needs an expert to execute complex simulations and analyse the results.

That's how it used to be well, until recently. Now the companies offering the most popular simulation programs, such as Autodesk, Solidworks, Siemens, PTC and others, have started developing 'Lite' simulation tools with variations of finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics and fluid flow analysis. They are quick and easier to use--but not always easily customisable. For example, Dassault Systemes' SIMULIA makes simulations accessible to all engineers for their development work. "Democratisation of simulation results and reuse of simulation methods is enabled through simple dashboard access to a company's library of published methods and best practices," said a spokesperson.

However, another market leader, Ansys, claims to have a solution that is much easier to deploy--because it's not a 'Lite' bolt-on to big software packages, but a specially developed application that can run on most laptops and PCs.

With Discovery Live, the US-based firm wants to make simulation accessible to every engineer in the production chain by 2020, saying that today just one in six uses this type of software. The company launched Discovery Live in September, making it freely available until next January.

The software is still in the prototype stage, but its stand at a recent Ansys conference in Tokyo was one of the most popular during the entire event. Immaculately dressed Japanese executives politely enquired about the software, and the company described its advantages to journalists at a special press conference.

"It's a new product, aiming to provide simulation to CAD users at early stages of the design," Philippe Laguna, technical manager in charge of Discovery Live in Europe, told PE. "We completely change the process of simulation. We don't have to measure the model. All the difficult steps where you require expertise are gone with Discovery Live. I would say it's simulation for dummies."

The idea is to provide a tool to help engineers make decisions, added Laguna. Discovery Live offers some multi-physics simulation, allows input and change of initial boundary conditions such as internal or external flow, and defining inlets and outlets. It has many CAD-like features, too, such as allowing to cut through a volume to get a 2D plane view of the simulation while it continues to run.

"It's common today that maybe only a couple of people have access to simulation tools," said Barry Christenson, global field marketing director at Ansys. "Discovery Live is opening up simulation to more people who don't do this as a specialty. These were the challenges of simulation so far. It required expertise, it required people to be doing this predominantly so that they could maintain their skill, maintain the familiarity with the tools--because it was such a high threshold to be able to learn some of these tools."

By Katia Moskvitch in Tokyo

Caption: Discovery Live is a realtime 3D simulation environment that offers intuitive and fast interaction with geometry, physics and results
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Title Annotation:SPOTLIGHT
Author:Moskvitch, Katia
Publication:Professional Engineering Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 2017
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