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Solving six equations soon? Try simultaneous simulation

H ow fast can you optimize this design for performance, quality, cost, and delivery? "Oh, no problem. I'll have it to you before lunch time." Yeah, right. When they're optimizing for multiple stresses, engineers have typically had to use a variety of CAE programs to test for variables like structural, dynamic, and acoustic stresses. The process soaks up human and computer time, and doesn't help to combine the results of all these analyses into a single solution. Optimus 3.0 from LMS (Troy, MI) "allows you to vary the parameters and set up multiple simulation runs with any major analysis program," says Tim Webb, the company's marketing manager. Without Optimus, changing the values manually is called doing "Monte Carlo runs" because predicting results is as hard as counting cards in Las Vegas, he says. "You give Optimus values like a spreadsheet, then it might do a hundred runs overnight," he says. "Then it prints out a sensitivity report with plots and tables of the results, both numerically and in graphs." Version 3.0 features new algorithms designed to find the optimal design for multiple stresses, even when confronted with multiple maxima, minima, or saddles. And data generated by one analysis can be used by any other, so any given point will be calculated only once. And as a final speed-booster, users can run multiple simulation tasks over a parallel network of workstations or PCs.

How to make a microchip sandwich

A nsPak(TM)is a parametric simulation tool for the chip packaging industry, from Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies (PADT). It operates as an add-on to the ANSYS(R)product line to provide mechanical analysis of ball grid array (BGA) packages, a method of soldering wire leads in semiconductor manufacturing. "With BGA, there are little balls of solder between the bottom of the chip and the top of the circuit board, making it easier and cheaper for production," says Eric Miller, director of CAD and software services at PADT (Gilbert, AZ). "But you need to analyze their reliability to ensure the solder doesn't crack when it cools. For instance, the position or spacing between the balls can be bad. Their size, shape, and height can all have an effect." AnsPak leads an engineer through the steps of defining the geometry, building a 2D or 3D finite element model, and conducting analyses. It can then be used to determine joint and die reliability under thermal loading stress during manufacturing and operations. And finally, AnsPak includes a user-customizable materials database, so engineers can add their favorite types of solder ball, encapsulant, board materials, etc.

Can you collaborate without crashing?

C ollaborative engineering over the Web sounds like a great idea...until your model gets scrambled during transmission, your browser crashes in mid-conversation, and your underpowered laptop takes 20 minutes to render each drawing. There may be a new answer in a familiar product. COSMOS/(TM)software, the MCAD design analysis tool from SRAC (Los Angeles, CA), has a new partner-RealityWave Inc. (Cambridge, MA)-and a new feature-streaming 3D. Now engineers can create a 3D model, analyze it in SRAC's COSMOS/, then upload it to RealityWave's VizStream(TM), a technology that uses the XGL format to transmit 3D content over the Web without hitting the typical bottlenecks of low bandwidth and slow computer performance. This means they can tap into Internet collaboration without concerns about time delay, design integrity, and workstation performance. And because there's now XGL support in COSMOS/Works and COSMOS/DesignSTAR, users can view, rotate, and dissect that model remotely.

Durable goods with endurance

P ro/MECHANICA Fatigue Advisor is a tool for predicting and optimizing the durability of structural components. It's the result of a partnership between Parametric Technology Corp. (PTC, Waltham, MA) and the UK-based automotive durability simulation company nCode, so that Fatigue Advisor works entirely within PTC's Pro/ENGINEER environment. nCode also partners with MSC (Los Angeles, CA) to make the high-end, Patran-based simulation tool MSC. Fatigue, but Fatigue Advisor is aimed at new and mid-range users, says nCode VP of Marketing Jeff Rankin. "nCode is the calculating engine in both of them, so it estimates product life in terms of time or duty cycles," he says. The goal of Fatigue Advisor is to enable designers to perform durability assessment early in the design process, "where the cost of change is low and opportunity for change is greatest," the company says.

Picture this: CAE data that really looks good

So you have megabytes of CFD results from the analysis of your latest widget, but all that data is just sitting in your hard drive, incomprehensible to anyone without an advanced math degree. EnSight 7 from Computational Engineering International (CEI, Morrisville, NC) is one solution. "We make post-processor visualization software that turns information into images or animations," explains company president Kent Misegades. EnSight 7 is a software package for visualizing and communicating CAE results. It even allows the visualization of multiple models, so users can load different cases simultaneously, and compare results side by side. Users can also link EnSight to a running simulation program to generate real-time animated visualizations. "We create realistic-looking images, since animation can tell you things you didn't know about a model," he says. In some applications, users can even don 3D stereoscopic goggles, for a complete VR experience. The program works with nearly any commercial CFD format: "It's pretty rare to have interoperability problems," Misegades says. "We're a third-party vendor, so we live and die by ease-of-use."

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