Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and finite element analysis (FEA) have traditionally been the domain of specialists. However, recent advances have radically changed who is diving into simulation and analysis work.
It's not necessarily that the science behind fluid dynamics or structural integrity has become easier. It's more that such computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools have become tightly woven into the fabric of traditional CAD programs and mainstream engineering workflows. This masks some of their complexities and makes them accessible to a broader engineering demographic.
Click on the slide below to see 11 examples showcasing this mainstreaming of CAE:
Predictive Engineering tapped Autodesk Simulation to conduct FEA and CFD analysis to simulate air flows on a firefighter respirator mask project, as part of an effort mandated by the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST).
Image courtesy of Predictive Engineering Inc.
CAE features are becoming commonplace on several levels. For one thing, most current CAD tools support a base level of CAE functionality, and some have gone even further by offering full FEA and sometimes CFD capabilities as part of the extended platform. The simulation vendors are doing their part by delivering advanced meshing and solver capabilities that can be run directly from within an engineer's CAD platform of choice.
This reduces reliance on siloed engineering systems, eliminating the need to navigate between tool sets and reducing training, since engineers can work within their most familiar environment. There are also efforts under way to leverage the simplicity of direct modeling CAD tools for preparing CAE models -- an approach that removes one of the more glaring pain points from simulation.
Ultimately, it's not necessarily about making everyone a CAE expert. Rather, it's about making simulation more accessible in the early part of the design process, so developers do more of it sooner and, as a result, optimize products when it's far cheaper and easier to make changes.
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