Sunday September 21, 2014

Autodesk Acquires NEi Nastran Solver

It seems as it the rate of acquisitions and strategic mergers and partnerships is at a fevered pitch right now. In the 3D printing world, it seems like companies are gobbling up other companies nearly daily. The end result of acquisitions is often a mixed bag. Often promising technologies coming out of smaller companies seem to completely fall off the map when purchased by bigger brethren.

Simulation becomes important piece of product design puzzle

More and more companies are reaping significant time-to-market boosts and increased product quality benefits from using simulation tools earlier in the development cycle. By reducing the number of physical prototypes that need to be built, these same companies are also significantly cutting design costs and still designing better products.

Not longer the domain of analysts and specialists, mid-range simulation tools are increasing being targeted at design engineers using so-called mid-range CAD systems, such as Inventor, SolidWorks, Solid Edge and Creo.

Autodesk moves to add Nastran to its CAE lineup

Last week, Autodesk announced that it had acquired the Nastran solver from NEi Software. To be clear, this is not the Nastran that was based on the original NASA-sponsored code. NEi Nastran, however, is often benchmarked against the original Nastran as well as ANSYS and Abacus.

Though the company has yet to unveil its plans for the software, it is speculated that the company will add the solver’s powerful linear and nonlinear as well as dynamic response capabilities to the other solvers the company has acquired in recent years. These include those from Algor, Moldflow and CFDesign.

nei nastran composite laminate versus metal1 155x300

This image shows the behavior of a metal structure (top image) as well as the top layer matrix and fiber failure indexes of a composite structure (middle and bottom image).

Solvers are the brains behind CAE software. They solve huge matrices with various algorithms for memory management, matrix simplification and rearrangement, and convergence tolerances.

Not much as been released in terms of details of what Autodesk has in store for the NEi Nastran solver, which has been traditionally aimed at the high-end, nonlinear user base, not design engineers. As a result, many questions remain unanswered. Not only what are Autodesk’s plans with the solver but how will partner relationships be handled? What will happen to the employees at NEi?

We’ll have to stayed tuned for the answers to those questions, but this acquisition is yet more evidence of how simulation technology is posed to become a tool–and competitive weapon–that that every company will be deploying in the years ahead.

Barb Schmitz