Under three teeny icons lies a whopper of an idea – one that promises to bring simulation into the early stages of the product cycle.
BOSTON, MA, May 25, 2011 (NAFEMS World Congress) – By now, we’ve all heard that we should be analyzing earlier in the product development cycle, about how the majority of lifecycle costs are determined during concept and early design phases. We’ve heard the scary stories how if only FEA had been done, the rework would not have happened, the tooling would have been correct, that millions of dollars would have been saved, the factory wouldn’t have had to close, and so on. Duly sobered, we may have sworn that, yes, indeed, we would do the analysis early. What else can you do? It’s like world peace. A damn good idea. You can’t argue against it.
But good intentions cannot withstand “I need this on my desk tomorrow– if you want to keep your job.”
The solution may come from Autodesk, who has an implementation of the early-analysis concept that is simply brilliant. I have to credit their newly formed SIM Squad for showing it to me at NAFEMS World Congress recently held in Boston.
The Autodesk MoldFlow Adviser Design plug-in’s three little icons promise a revolution in up-front CAE, providing instant readouts of manufacturability, cost and environmental impact. Note the wiper at different levels on each icon – an indication an analyis is being done in the background.
The Autodesk Moldflow Adviser Design plug-in puts 3 little icons on the screen of Autodesk Inventor, which the SIM Squad calls gauges. The user creates a plastic part in Inventor as they normally would. But as he is doing so, the “gauges” reflect the quality of the part, measuring manufacturability, cost, and environmental impact issues. The add-in is evaluating draft angle – or lack of it. Adequate undercuts. Wall thickness. Maybe a dozen other criteria of good plastic part design. You can use it to see sink marks. A whole lot of information can be found by clicking on the little warning marks that appear when inside the icons. They’ll even turn red if you’ve really screwed up. Look closely and you’ll see a little wiper that goes up and down over each icon. The SIM Squad tells me that indicates a full Moldflow analysis is occurring. A real analysis. In real time. Practically as the part is being created.
An Inventor user can click on one of the Autodesk Moldflow Adviser Design plug-In icons to see a list of potential problems. Each problem can be isolated onscreen. In this case undercuts are shown directly on an Inventor part model.
How is this even possible? Ok, I may be old enough to remember having to come back the next day to get the paper printout of an analysis, but I have conceded that today’s tools can spit out results during coffee breaks. But real-time analysis – that is just unreal.
No supercomputer was hidden under the demo table. I looked.
The SIM Squad tells me that the Moldflow Adviser plug-in (which also works in Pro/ENGINEER) is a precursor to similar implementations. So expect to see similar gauges for stress analysis (using Algor technology). And maybe even fluids, as Autodesk has also acquired Blue Ridge Numerics.
Should this be the case, Autodesk will have succeeded in eliminating just about every excuse you might have had for not doing an early analysis. Those three little icons are a huge advance for the cause of up-front CAE.
Maybe Autodesk should now tackle world peace.