OK, I’m a little behind the curve on this one. I admit it. I had a sit-down with the folks at Comsol recently, and they were describing their multiphysics software. No, I was not really familiar with the term multiphysics. I knew it existed (heck, we cover it at Design News), but I wasn’t aware of how valuable it could really be.
The nice part about the term is that it means exactly what it sounds like. Comsol’s multiphysics software handles simulations of a system. These simulations require the use of multiple types of physics (hence, the name), such as chemical structures, mechanical aspects, heat transfer, acoustics, and even electrical conditions.
I figured there had to be some type of analysis software out there that could combine more than one type physics, but to be honest, I never gave it a lot of thought. Trial-and-error was the method of choice in my day. Simulate a model. Get the results for that type of physics. Then run a real test. When that failed, you checked to see why and how it failed, made some adjustments, ran the test again using the single-physics software, and then ran the real-world test again. You repeated these steps until you got a result that either worked properly, or was within the design tolerance.
But now? You run all the different physics simultaneously, and (as Emeril would say), Bam! Your result might not be exactly what’s needed for the final output, but it’s pretty darn close and reduces the design time considerably.