In our annual poll of executives at leading analysis and simulation software companies, we posed questions dealing with virtual prototyping, multiphysics, the roles of the designer and analyst, and how software vendors are helping their customers remain competitive. Here’s what they had to say about major changes in their market, and how new technology will benefit users.

Virtual Prototyping

While the term “virtual prototyping” has been used for a number of years, it is defined differently by various industries. For some, virtual prototyping can mean simply simulating a design on a computer instead of building a physical prototype. But for others, it is more complex, and the tools required to achieve a true virtual prototype are not always user friendly.

“Virtual prototyping is being able to do everything you do in the lab through simulation,” said Bruce Klimpke, Technical Director of Integrated Engineering Software. “Not only would it mean how to simulate the physical parameters such as electrical, thermal, and mechanical, but it would also include aesthetics and how people may react to the product.”

Svante Littmarck, President and CEO of COMSOL, Inc., agrees. With virtual prototyping, he said, “Instead of building a physical prototype, you simulate it using a computerized model representing all interesting aspects of the realworld prototype, such as physical behavior following the laws of science, interaction interfaces with other objects and media, and other relevant constraints. It streamlines the path between ideas for design modifications and their consequences, which contributes insight into the physical physics underlying performance, and in turn, drastically improves designs.”

This complete product performance analysis also helps designers and engineers get their products to market faster, often at a lower cost, by eliminating expensive prototyping and testing phases. “Virtual prototyping expresses what engineering analysis software can accomplish as a product development tool, which basically is testing a 3D CAD part in computer space,” said David Weinberg, President and CEO of NEi Software. “The word ‘virtual’ conveys the most powerful benefit of engineering simulation — no fabricating of parts, no test fixtures, no sensors, and no test runs required,” Weinberg added. “Product designers can catch flaws and problems early, intelligently optimize, explore innovative alternatives, improve quality, and deliver finished designs faster.”

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