In relationships, sports, and business, it can generally be said that the more one anticipates, the more effective one can be. The same holds true for product design. That's why analysis programs can prove helpful. Implemented during the design process, they can not only improve the end result, they can eliminate potential problems along the way
The above chart summarizes some popular analysis packages presently on the market, each one emphasizing a particular technology. Pro/MECHANICA from Parametric Technology, for example, uses adaptive refinement technology to reduce the accuracy burden placed on the user. "This is vital to widespread effective use of simulation and optimization," says Brian Sheperd, manager of functional applications at Parametric.
CATIA's Generative Part series of products from Dassault/IBM are for designers and specialists using a common architecture.
"With this architecture, designers and analysts can work together to reduce design lead times while increasing quality by performing more analyses on more parts," explains Jean-Francois Maiziere, CATIA analysis segment manager for IBM.
Industry standards such as Microsoft Windows compliance and ACIS and Parasolids kernels play a major role in mainstream analysis tools. "It's important for the design engineer to work in an integrated and associative environment with the underlying solid-modeling system," argues Olimpio DeMarco, director of marketing and support for MacNeal-Schwendler. "MSC offers these integrated design checking tools with the MSC/InCheck product and an upward mobility path with MSC/NASTRAN for Windows based on the industry standard kernels and user interface."
Other features of today's analysis tools include training and support. SDRC, for instance, offers complete training and consultancy to set up standard repeatable analysis. Matra Datavision offers system-wide data management capabilities specifically designed for analysis experts to guide, manage, and monitor the analysis activities of designers.
Considerations before investing in a specific analysis package? Design Engineers should ask themselves the following questions:
1) What are the factors of product performance that have the greatest impact on the success or failure of the product?
2) How do these factors translate into the analysis that needs to be performed?
3)How reusable is this analysis for downstream products--Is it repeatable enough to be embedded in the software?
4) What will the ultimate return on investment be?