Engineering Problem Solving Approach Using Simulation​/CAE

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As product complexity grows, so does the challenge of integrating individual components within a product to ensure they work together as expected. Product modelling, simulation and validation allow you to create a complete digital prototype to understand and optimize the critical interactions between physics and the environment throughout the product development process. We discuss here approaches used to solve any engineering problem using simulation or CAE methodology.

METHODS TO SOLVE ENGINEERING PROBLEM​

The process of handling any engineering problem starts with Establishing a clearly defined goal i.e. expectation of the end results then Compile and Qualify the Inputs i.e. Put down all the information you have in hand to start resolving the problem after this step you can choose between the appropriate methodology/approach mentioned below to conduct detailed solution to the problem, Any engineering problem can be tackled with this three approaches

  1. Analytical or Classical Approach
  2. Simulation Based Approach using Numerical Methods
  3. Experimental or Prototyping Approach

 Let’s look into each of these one by one.

Analytical Approach

This method we usually learn in engineering colleges where we make assumptions and apply governing equations and classical approaches like Bernoulli beam theory, Newton Laws of mechanics etc. to get the solutions to the problem. Normally this method can be effectively applied on simple geometries and boundary conditions.

Simulation Based Approach using Numerical Methods

This method is used to solve problems that cannot be solved exactly & are intractable. Usually, physical model is simplified to mathematical representation and assumptions are to solve for approximate solution. The method depends heavily on the processing power of computers and is applicable to structures of arbitrary size and complexity. Finite Elements, Finite Difference, Finite Volumes, Boundary Elements & Meshless Method are some of the techniques used to solve an engineering problem. Out of all numerical method, Finite element is more popular due to its capabilities and widely applied in the commercial software.

Experimental or Prototype Method

This method is based on making the prototype of the product, then subjecting prototype to loading and boundary conditions and making measurements at regular intervals for the response study. This approach is time-consuming, and cannot be scaled-up i.e. if test results are negative then again prototype needs to be modified or made from scratch. Wind-Tunnel test, Crash or Impact test, Load Testing, Noise and Vibration testing etc. are some of the examples of the experimental method.

USING COMPUTER-AIDED ENGINEERING (CAE) TOOLS AS YOUR FRIEND

Computer-Aided Engineering or more popularly known as “CAE” has enabled the engineers and designers to easily create digital prototypes while considering more complex and diverse materials. CAE tools let the designers easily verify and predict product performance through optimized simulations using virtual prototyping prior to mass production. CAE can be utilized effectively to

  • Explore multiple design options,
  • Durability to check the life of the product,
  • Reduce physical prototypes,
  • Optimize design performance.

In the traditional design process, manufacturers rely on engineer’s experience and judgment for the success of product design and development. The process requires manufacturing lot of physical prototypes followed by testing under different environmental and operating conditions so that it may not fail while functioning, which involves a lot of time and money to be invested due to repetitiveness of the traditional design process. The figure below represents a generic traditional design process, which is now becoming obsolete due to companies switching to more sophisticated technology using CAE.

Contrasting to traditional design process utilizing CAE at the design stage offers an innovative process, which leads to securing initial product quality, a decrease in product development time and reduced costs. With the increase in the number of simulations, the need for producing physical prototypes will significantly decrease. Due to these advantages CAE tools are becoming more and more popular nowadays. Introducing and utilizing CAE from the initial stage of product development will lead to following advantages.

  • Possibility to evaluate product design prior to manufacturing prototypes.
  • Tremendous flexibility in design changes.
  • Significant reduction in design time and costs.

In brief, CAE is synonymous with technology by which performance of a design model is examined and improved through a series of simulations using a computer as fabricating physical prototypes can be very costly and time consuming for product development. Product design needs to be optimized for efficiency and productivity while being innovative.

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