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The Case for FEA Simulations Early in New Product Development

SOLIDWORKS Simulation

Written by: Dave Leahy, Simulation Solutions Manager

When thinking of taking a product from concept to finished product, I often think of the Steve Jobs quote about how you determine your final product attributes:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done.  Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things.”

How do you get more “things” to say no to?… You do virtual (FEA) simulations early in the design process to understand HOW your product performs and which areas or features are critical to optimal performance.

At DASI Solutions and SOLIDWORKS, we provide the software tools to analyze your product in the first part of the design stage. Using our FEA and CFD design validation tools to provide “virtual testing” of your product, you can eliminate those areas that are not necessary for your product to achieve its required level of functionality and performance.  Weight reduction is the first thing that comes to mind.  Very few items benefit by solely being heavy. If you can match the strength and stiffness in your product but with a reduced weight why wouldn’t you want to do that?

At SOLIDWORKS World last week, we were introduced to two new capabilities that will soon be added to the SOLIDWORKS design validation suite of tools to assist engineers to better understand and optimize a design before the first physical model is ever built.

Topology Optimization

One ofTopology Optimization in Simulation these capabilities is an integrated topology optimization feature which is used to conceive lighter and stiffer structures early in the product development process.  This gives engineers another reason to use simulation at the start of a design rather than when something breaks in testing or – in some instances – after it is out in the field. This solution is based on industry leading software from our parent company, Dassault Systemes, called Tosca. Look for this capability as we move to SOLIDWORKS 2018 in the fall.

If you currently don’t have FEA simulation tools installed at your company, you may want to start with our Simulation Standard or Professional package and get familiar with using FEA as part of the design process. Then, when topology optimization is available you’ll be ready to take full advantage.

Simulation Engineer

The second new capability – Simulation Engineer – extends the SOLIDWORKS Simulation capabilities to allow our customers to explore additional conceptual designs that take into account highly non-linear materials and real-world interaction between components. This could be used for products like plastic bottles and cups that are simple in shape but need to pass a variety of tests in order to be marketable. Understanding how a sudden impact affects the performance of these types of materials has been limited in SOLIDWORKS Simulation. This toolkit will open up a new range of capabilities for CAD-centric virtual simulation. This extends our Simulation Premium offering to allow more complex material models and multiple non-linearities.

Click here for more information on the Simulation Engineer product.