Throughout history, technology and engineering efforts have been focused on simplifying, improving efficiency and quality. Just to show an example-not a long time ago, driving a car was a downright hard work. Brakes were not so good, gearboxes were tricky and the steering didn’t have a good performance. But now driving a car has become so easy. People don’t have to worry anymore about the stick shift, not even about knowing how to park your car in a small place. There are bunch of different options for all kinds of users, experts and beginners.
However, all the efforts are not focused only on simplicity, but also on improving efficiency and quality. Modern engines are more fuel-efficient, metal alloys used on frames are lighter and stronger. Car designs are more aerodynamic with smooth shapes. All these advancement happened due to the computational tools we have.
First manufactured cars were designed manually. This process was evidently longer with a higher chance of making mistakes and reducing the possibility to do any changes. Despite all this obstacles, human beings have created incredible machines to simplify our jobs, life, increase safety, etc. Nevertheless, there is always a better, easier, and faster way to do things. Just as it started happening in the mid 60’s with the beginning of CAD systems that provided a powerful tool for designers. The cost-benefit was so evident that a lot of companies did not hesitate for the change. Even though a big part of the designing process to create a prototype, part or machine was digital, there were still many estimations, mechanical, electrical or thermal calculations that had to be done manually.
A few years later, some other computational tools allowed people to do these calculations with some restrictions such as complexity of the software that required an experienced master or PhD student. Solvers were slow and required the latest technology computers to do that. Over time, better solvers were developed that allowed the resolution of more complex systems as well as optimizing existing parts and creating the new ones. However, the use of specialized personnel was still required which increased costs and made it difficult for small companies to access this type of technology.
From this need to simplify these tools to provide greater access to them, what we know as simulation driven design was born. Simulation driven design has changed simulation technology and simplified it to the level where, a designer can instantaneously see the results for any changes they made on the geometry. Previously, the work cycle to develop a product was basically concentrated in three main stages- design of the part by the team of designers, evaluation of the conditions of the application by an engineering team with which a result was obtained to provide changes or enhancements to be added again by the design team, these stages clearly spanned product development by weeks.
Currently with simulation driven design, these stages have been simplified. The different software on the market currently used has made these tasks so simple that a designer is able to evaluate multi physic conditions in some specific applications obtaining accurate results. Designing as well as simulating has become easier. There are multiple tools that have been added in order to facilitate the design or editing of parts. An example of this are the different functions to cut, stretch or lengthen 3D elements as well as the automatic creation of 2D plans from a part in 3D. Many more tools have been added again to simplify the use of these software and thus allowing to develop better products in less time and at a lower cost.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, engineering efforts are generally focused on three main factors- simplicity, efficiency and quality. It is vitally important to provide access to these technologies to a greater percentage of the target population and in the case of efficiency it would be qualified in terms of time used in this tools. Now we see how the use of simulation driven design as well as the creation and optimization of design tools have generated these impacts. Additionally, in terms of quality, it is evaluated with the improvement in the solvers used, which allow us to analyze more complex scenarios and more specific applications.
Even so, it is important to highlight that experience as well as specialization in specific areas such as design or simulation can hardly be completely replaced by software. In specific applications of high complexity with specific requirements in terms of safety, quality , manufacturing process, etc. It will always be necessary to use interdisciplinary teams to obtain the most accurate and effective results.