By Bruce Jenkins, Ora Research
Seamplex, the latest entrant in the burgeoning market for cloud-based engineering modeling Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), is readying for release next month an offering it brands as CAEplex, a web front end for open-source engineering computational codes running on the cloud. The company describes its product as “the first platform designed from the back end outward, embedding the UNIX philosophy in its design basis to write an easy-to-use yet flexible and powerful tool for engineers.”
Seamplex explains this philosophy by referencing Wikipedia’s definition, which reads in part: “The Unix philosophy…is a set of cultural norms and philosophical approaches to minimalist, modular software development. It is based on the experience of leading developers of the Unix operating system. Early Unix developers were important in bringing the concepts of modularity and reusability into software engineering practice, spawning a ‘software tools’ movement…The Unix philosophy emphasizes building simple, short, clear, modular and extensible code that can be easily maintained and repurposed by developers other than its creators.”
In that context, Seamplex explains how it approached design of CAEplex: “The front end was designed, coded and implemented from scratch in the same spirit the back end was actually designed, coded and implemented. Simple parts connected by well-defined interfaces. Separated policies and mechanisms. Easy communication with other programs. Small straightforward cooperating pieces.”
Built on open-source FEA and engineering modeling software
CAEplex’s back end is built on Fino (FINite element method), a free finite element analysis software tool designed to handle linear elastic problems, natural frequency analysis and heat conduction, and on Wasora, a free computational software environment designed to help experts analyze complex systems by solving mathematical problems via high-level plain-text input file containing a “syntactically sweetened” description of definitions and instructions. Capabilities include evaluation of algebraic expressions; single- and multidimensional function interpolation; scalar, vector and matrix operations; numerical integration, differentiation and root finding of functions; ability to solve iterative and/or time-dependent problems; adaptive integration of systems of differential-algebraic equations, and more.
The company’s core value propositions for CAEplex:
- Web-based—“Use just your browser. Even your tablet or phone. No need to install anything. Always available.”
- Cloud-based—“Run complex calculations on our servers. No need to purchase extra hardware. Always updated.”
- Secure—“Not only do we keep just the last version, but all the history of your work. We also encrypt your data during transmission and storage.”
- Collaborative—“Share your work with colleagues or clients. Discuss results online with people all over the world.”
- Community-backed—“Ask for help in our forums, blogs and webinars. Browse our marketplace to get or provide consulting services.”
- Open source—“The computational codes that perform your calculations are free as in free speech. You can actually see what and how the equations are solved.
“Five easy steps to finite element analysis”
The CAEplex workflow is simple and straightforward.
Step 1: Geometry—Review the 3D geometry. Turn layers on and off to check that geometry is correctly defined.
Step 2: Problem—Select the material from a list, or enter its elastic properties. Define the volumetric forces (weight, centrifugal, etc.) if any. Finally, add boundary conditions to define displacements and/or loads by selecting face models with a mouse click.
Step 3: Mesh—Choose a mesh granularity to generate a grid for the geometry. Review the number of elements and see how the faces with boundary conditions have been discretized.
Step 4: Solution—Review the problem parameters to ensure the mathematical model is well defined. If anything was missed during setup, easily go back and correct or complete the task.
Step 5: Results—View regions and values of maximum stress and displacement. Toggle on an off the Von Mises stresses in both the original and the displaced mesh. Interactively warp the model to see the deformations with an arbitrary factor. Download the results in VTK format.
In addition to the above capabilities in the currently available pre-release demo version of CAEplex, the full version will also include:
- Step 6—An easy-to-use, automatic, customizable PDF report generator with revision tracking (using LaTeX and Mercurial respectively).
- Transparent project version tracking using Git as the back end (the same approach taken by full-cloud CAD pioneer Onshape).
- Collaboration links to share projects with colleagues and/or clients.
- Customizable colors and layout.
- Encryption of sensitive information during both transfer and storage.
- Comprehensive database of materials properties plus the ability to customize and manage frequently used ones.
- More problem types including natural frequency analysis, heat transfer and others.
A standard subscription will be priced at $60 per month. In a special launch promotional offer, the software will be available for $50 per month. Prospective purchasers will be able to obtain full access at no cost for a 14-day trial period. Contact the company for corporate enterprise-level subscriptions.