In our annual poll of executives at leading analysis and simulation software vendors, we found that more widespread use of the cloud, mobile devices, and touchscreen interfaces will be major trends for 2013. These trends will require that vendors take a careful look at their software interfaces to evolve accordingly.

Simulate Early and Often

Many software vendors that previously were CAD-centric are now offering enhanced simulation and analysis packages that provide more advanced capabilities than simple up-front analysis. As a result, the design engineer’s use of simulation will increase, and will occur earlier in the design cycle.

“As the use of CAD tools has become ubiquitous, the natural course will be for design engineers to include simulation as early as possible,” explained Bruce Klimpke, Technical Director at Integrated Engineering Software (www.integratedsoft.com). “Why continue with a design that can be shown to be inadequate at the early stages of conception? The sooner the basic design flaws are uncovered, the sooner remedial designs can be invented.”

Giving design engineers the opportunity to assess a product’s success or failure early in the process helps ensure that a better, more reliable product will get to market quicker. “The design engineer certainly would want to know how a design will perform in the real world before calling it a finished design,” said Svante Littmarck, President and CEO of COMSOL, Inc. (www.comsol.com). “Design engineers will sometimes need to go outside their comfort zone and into cross-disciplinary simulation roles. Think of an electrical engineer performing certain structural or CFD analysis tasks.”

“Employing CAE earlier in the development cycle is important in reducing development time and cost, and more importantly, in designing a better product,” explained Deryl Snyder, Director of Aerospace & Defense at CD-adapco (www.cd-adapco.com). “It does no good to inject analysis results into the design process if those results are not sufficiently accurate to move the design in the right direction,” he added.

Incorporating analysis and simulation early in the design process also helps decrease the overall development time, not just the design phase. Using simulation that is CAD-embedded enables designers to do simulation within their CAD system. “The trend is towards shorter design cycles and often, traditional simulation tools can serve as bottlenecks,” said Boris Marovic, Product Marketing Manager for Aerospace & Defense at Mentor Graphics (www.mentor.com). With CAD-embedded simulation, Marovic explained, “The user will never leave his CAD system at any time. The engineer will start his design, and when he reaches a point of uncertainty, he simply sets up a simulation project, runs the calculation, and can visualize the results within the CAD model.”

Dave Weinberg, President and CEO of NEi Software (www.neisoftware.com), observed that while he sees a growing base of customers coming from traditional CAD communities, many still require a more robust analysis solution. “Although the benefits of using a CAD program as an FEA platform continues to be mainly budgetary, we are also seeing users bypass these in-CAD solutions based on their analysis requirements, including greater control over mesh generation,” he said.

While simulation has traditionally been relegated to the end of the product development process, CAD-embedded and easier- to-use tools have brought simulation closer to the beginning of design work. “Traditionally performed at the end of the design process, budget and market pressure for low-cost, high-quality, complex systems continues to drive modeling and simulation activity earlier in the process,” according to Jon Friedman, Aerospace & Defense Marketing Manager at MathWorks (www.mathworks.com).

Luke Mihelcic, Simulation Product Marketing Executive at Autodesk (www.autodesk.com), agreed. “Performing simulation at the end of a project for validation has little impact on innovation. Putting simulation into the hands of design engineers up front in the process allows for greater innovation, faster product development, and higher-quality products.”

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