When it comes to analysis of systems, one thing is painfully obvious to design engineers: Most real-world systems are hideously complex, which usually means you need to understand a whole range of physical interactions and disciplines in order to get accurate (or even ballpark) results.
Many engineers and analysts have addressed this multi-disciplinary problem by pulling together a toolbox of different software solutions. But handing off results from one discipline to the next can be wretchedly time consuming and fraught with errors if you're not careful.
Recognizing the need for a better way to bring the different pieces together as a whole, MSC.Software Corp. announced in January the availability of its first fully integrated multi-discipline simulation tool, MD Nastran (the MD is for multi-discipline). It extends well beyond the realm of the traditional disciplines of structural statics and dynamics into implicit/explicit nonlinear and multi-body motion. More functions are available as add-ons, too.
MSC.Software engineers essentially pulled off this feat by combining the company's full suite of analysis software platforms including MSC.Nastran, Marc, Dytran and LS-Dyna into one fully integrated, single point solution.
"The ability to have a coupled analysis environment, where an engineer can look at an accurate representation of a fluid interaction with the structural analysis piece, for example, all in a single model, will give him powerful insight into the behavior of his design," says Carlson Choi, director of marketing, MSC.Software
MD Nastran is just one more example of the spate of new, integrated software tools designed explicitly to eliminate the need for multiple models and data wrestling matches and to improve the accuracy of results. Moldflow Corp, for example, recently announced the coupling of its filling simulations with its own 3D structural analysis code.
So what do engineers think? Choi says that the engineering community's interest in MD Nastran has been high since the product was launched in February.
But with so many engineers and analysts already using MSC.Software's dedicated analysis software tools — the separate pieces if you will — does Choi expect to see these existing users racing out to buy the new, single-solver technology right away? "While we expect that many of our customers are going to want to maintain their existing investments for the time being, over time I think we will begin to see a shift — especially as engineers begin to see all that they can do with a single solver and more companies embrace the enterprise model."