COMSOL Makes Multiphysics More CAD-Like

DN Staff

October 20, 2009

3 Min Read
COMSOL Makes Multiphysics More CAD-Like

Aiming to put multiphysics simulation capabilities withinreach of mainstream engineers and scientists, COMSOLcompletely revamped COMSOL Multiphysics with a new user interface that takes apage from CAD tools.

The centerpiece of the new COMSOL Multiphysics Version 4.0,due out by year end, is Model Builder, a set of graphical programming toolsthat guide users from model creation to simulation results, while providingfull control and oversight of their simulation tasks. Via its dynamic modelconfiguration approach, users can build a model in the new environment simplyby right-clicking to perform such tasks as importing CAD geometries, meshing,specifying specific materials properties, solving and plotting results. Userscan also set up the desktop's appearance easily to their preferences using thedocked window placement capabilities.

Despite growing recognition of the importance of earlysimulation as part of the product design process, many engineers still don'thave access to sophisticated multiphysics simulation capabilities, dueprimarily o the complexity of the offerings. "(With Version 4.0), if you knowCAD, you know our tool," says John Dunec, COMSOL's vice president of sales."With Model Builder, we're trying to move the program closer to what designengineers are comfortable with."

Philippe Masson, senior scientist with Advanced Magnet Lab and a long-time user ofCOMSOL Multiphysics, said Version 4.0's new usability features will undoubtedlymake the tool more accessible to engineers, especially those not that familiarwith physics. "People get scared when there's too much physics involved," saysMasson, who uses COMSOL Multiphysics for electro-thermal simulations ofone-of-a-kind magnets used in physics and medical applications, among otheruses. "Previously, (with Version 3.5) you had to understand the equationsbefore you solved them. Now, (with Version 4.0) you can set up the problem witha few clicks and you don't have to check the equation if you don't want to."

For Masson, a self-avowed advanced COMSOL user, the built-indatabase functionality of the new release is more appealing, as it lets himrecord and save the steps of any model and simulation scenario, enabling reusefor another simulation or if the model is redefined. "This capability saves metime," he says. "Everything you do is kept in the database ... so you have accessto past work." For example, if Masson was doing a series of plots and wanted todo another, older versions of COMSOL Multiphysics would require that he'ddiscard past work and start from scratch. What's appealing about Version 4.0,he says, is that he has access to those previous plots to use as a startingpoint.

Along with the interface improvements, Version 4.0 supportsexpanded CAD interoperability with the new LiveLink for PTC Pro/ENGINEER, a tool thatcreates a seamless connection between the two environments. As a result,engineers can change a feature in a Pro/ENGINEER CAD model and have itautomatically update the geometry in COMSOL Multiphysics, while retainingphysics settings. There are versions of LiveLink already available for SolidWorks and AutodeskInventor.

Finally, COMSOL Multiphysics Version 4.0 supports parallelprocessing on standard multi-core computers as well as distributed memorysystems (clusters). The new release also supports Windows Compute ClusterServer 2003, Windows HPC Server 2008 and Linux.

Users perform the entire model set up - from geometry creation to visualization of the simulation results - in Model Builder in COMSOL Multiphysics Versions 4.0.

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