By Bruce Jenkins, President, Ora Research
A new generation of simulation software is bringing novel, powerful approaches to simplifying the setup of analysis problems – the bottleneck where much of the time and expertise required to use sophisticated CAE were long concentrated. At the same time, many of these vendors are removing barriers to affordability with new pricing models that are subscription-based, short-term (as little as one month) if desired, and free of the old-fashioned, long-term lock-in features formerly used to coerce customers’ loyalty.
Far from being an exhaustive list, here are just three examples, each one distinctly different from the others, to illustrate the range of what’s happening today.
SIMSOLID is a new structural analysis software product developed specifically for design engineers. Its most dramatic technological breakthrough is to let users perform analysis directly on imported CAD geometry, without having to perform the two most time-consuming and expertise-extensive activities of traditional finite element analysis – geometry simplification and meshing.
In addition, SIMSOLID can analyze complex parts and large assemblies not practical with traditional FEA, and do so efficiently on desktop-class computers, the company says. Solution accuracy is controlled using what the company characterizes as a unique “multi-pass adaptive analysis.” Adaptivity is definable on a global or part-local basis, and is always active.
On first release, the software has a direct data integration to the Onshape CAD system (and is available in the Onshape App Store, as well as directly from SIMSOLID). It also accepts standard STL output from any CAD system.
SIMSOLID’s pricing follows the new-generation subscription-oriented model. A full-function 30-day trial is available free. A by-the-month subscription is $200 per month, while an annual license is $1500 per year. SIMSOLID is the brainchild of industry veterans Ken Welch, CEO, and Victor Apanovitch, president and CTO.
XFlow is a company whose mission, in somewhat similar fashion, is to simplify what was traditionally the formidably complex process of setting up problems in computational fluid dynamics (CFD). With the conventional mesh-based approach to setting up a CFD problem – or “case,” as it’s called – the reliability of the solution is highly dependent on the quality of the mesh. Thus, engineers spend a great deal of their time working on the refinement or “discretization” of the mesh. Furthermore, if the problem involves either moving parts or fluid-structure interaction, there are severe challenges in setting up the case to deal with those changes in the topology of the problem domain.
XFlow’s answer is what it calls a “particle-based kinetic solver” designed to avoid the traditional meshing process. Its software uses proprietary Lattice-Boltzmann technology to provide feedback on flow simulation, transient aerodynamics, water management and fluid-structure interaction. Its particle-based solver approach is designed to simplify the case-setup workflow, and reduce the time spent on case preparation, by minimizing the presence of algorithmic parameters and eliminating the traditionally time-consuming meshing process.
SimForDesign is a cloud-based CAE service intended to provide simulation streamlined for designers. Aimed specifically at designers, it does not assume its user to be a simulation expert. The software is intended to help designers understand structural performance of their designs, specifically displacements and stresses, in order to make smarter design decisions.
Not meant to replace conventional CAE tools used by analysts for final design validation, SimForDesign is intended to make structural analysis an integral part of the design process by removing the complexities of setting up standard structural analysis of parts and small assemblies through automatic mesh generation and analysis. The software can be deployed in local data centers if desired.
The pricing model, straightforward and transparent, is on a prepaid-usage basis. For example, a $25 Standard package is for one user, one compute hour, one GB storage, and five projects (plus free examples). A $100 Premium package is for one user, five compute hours, five GB storage, and 10 projects (plus free examples). A $250 Professional package is for one user, 25 compute hours, 50 GB storage, and unlimited number of projects. A $500 Corporate package is for multiple users, 50 compute hours, 250 GB storage, and unlimited number of projects.
SimForDesign was developed by Fidesys, a Moscow-based engineering company best known for its strength analysis system, CAE Fidesys. The company was founded in 2009 by experts and graduates of the Department of Computational Mechanics of Lomonosov Moscow State University.