In response to your third point Keith, we are working on some proof-of-concept projects that I hope to be able to expose in the near future. I think it is fair to say that this is still in its infancy.
To respond to Tim's question, the biggest barrier is opening the eyes of leaders of large organizations that major cost savings can be realized by making the CAD design function and the modeling/simulation function more closely integrated. Having said that, we are seeing some positive moves in this direction.
Blake got the jump on me on your second point. At the design stage, it is increasingly important the all aspects of systems - not just mechanical - can be considered when validating the design. While this may not necessarily be an intrinsic part of the CAD tool, the design information needs to be readily accessible to tools like ours. And vice-versa, the results of any analysis or optimization needs to flow easily into the CAD environment.
I think design-for-simulation is the overarching goal for tools like ours. As you rightly say, there are many aspects of the design that need to be determined before gong to the mechanical/production design. I view the CAD tools in our arena as "sketchpads" to capture the preliminary design, not the manufacturing design. These are typically used in parallel with the dynamic/kinematic modeling and analysis in order to determine if the concept will fulfill the design requirements. As I mentioned, these are typically separate activities but we are starting to see a demand for either incorporating the mechanical design from these CAD tools so we can determine the mechanical topology for simulation. This is by no means an automatic process but there are several development projects going on to make this happen.
That's a fair point, Keith, and I also see requirements management and configuraion tools used. That said, in many applications mechanical geometry is critically related to the rest of the system. Forces drive required part size, but then the part masses affect the amound of force supplied by other components. The race car braking system is a concrete example I'm aware of.
You are talking about a direct link between the system simulation tool and CAD. That is surprising. Most people talk about the connection being through a requirements management tools, or a configuration manager ...
When are people going to realize we need design for simulation? Design for manufacturing should not start until the simulation screenings have been done. The work done to defeature detailed CAD is simply waste.
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