Engineering analysis has always been an approximation. Finite element analysis and other related software help you get close to replicating what could happen to a product in the real world, but traditionally it has stopped short of reality. It still does. But software developers have made great strides in closing the gap between the real and the virtual world—and along the way they've done something else that seems counterintuitive: They've made the software easier to use. No longer is it only specialists who can use simulation software. Design engineers at every level can use it now, and they can use it earlier than ever in the design process to get a sneak peek at whether the design meets the required specs. The specialists still play a vital role, of course, especially in critical applications like aerospace. But the improvements in software features and usability are bringing analysis closer than ever to the real world.
Results at a Glance
ALGOR V. 17 Mechanical Event Simulation Capabilities. The easiest way to grasp the effect of stresses is to see them on the computer screen. In essence, that's the promise of ALGOR's mechanical event simulation (MES) software. It combines large-scale motion and stress analysis and includes linear and nonlinear models. The result: You can see what hap-pens on impact, including buckling and permanent deformation. Version 17 includes new MES capabilities such as support for hyperfoam materials. Among other enhancements: the capability to display graphs in the same window as result contours. For example, in a simulation of a compressor drop test, graphs of displacement and velocity are embedded within the displacement contour display. Also new is a ruler that displays the scale of the model. Annotations highlight the location of minimum and maximum results. For more information, go to http://rbi.ims.ca/4391-522.
Electromagnetics Take A Bow
ANSYS 9.0. Engineers have traditionally had their work cut out for them when trying to simulate electromagnetics effects in design. This release of ANSYS aims to make it easier. A port is now available in Release 9 to launch a plane wave for a scattering analysis of a periodic structure. Commonly referred to as a Frequency Selective Surface (FSS), it's used in applications such as the viewing window of microwave ovens. Release 9 also features magnetostatic modeling capabilities that engineers need to simulate solenoids, magnet designs, and actuators, among other products. In July, ANSYS will unveil further capabilities when it releases Version 10 of the software. For more information, go to http://rbi.ims.ca/4391-519.
Simulate While Still in the CAD Tool
SimDesigner for CATIA V5 from MSC.Software. Engineers have been demanding that simulation software developers integrate FEA tools with CAD programs so engineers can easily use them early in the design process. MSC has been doing that, and the latest result is this product embedded in CATIA V5. Among the features are tools for simulating travel; investigating stresses from product-operation motions; studying transient stress time histories of flexible components; examining bending stresses, axial stresses, and forces on standard beams; and predicting composite structural performance. For more information, go to http://rbi.ims.ca/4391-520.
Drop The Subject
COSMOSWorks 2005 from SolidWorks. Any product you can hold in your hand—and even others you can't hold—can drop. Hopefully, the design is robust enough that the cell phone, PDA, computer, or other item doesn't break into a thousand unusable pieces. To help ensure against that, COSMOSWorks incorporates a drop-test feature that lets engineers simulate what would happen in software so they don't have to build a physical prototype to find out. Of course, the current release of the software assumes that all objects drop on a concrete floor, which isn't exactly the way things always work in the real world. But the next release, due out later this year, will correct that problem. For more information, go to http://rbi.ims.ca/4391-521.