Siemens NX CAE Symposium: Users show their love

27 Nov 2011: The week before last I attended an invitation only event in Charlotte, NC, as a guest of Siemens at their first NX CAE Symposium. Designed as a way for users to get together to exchange ideas about how they use NX CAE software, some 80 customers attended the symposium, held at the Joe Gibbs Racing Facility just outside Charlotte.

The overall consensus of the presenters and the attendees I spoke with was satisfaction with the NX CAE suite. Many complimented the breadth of the CAE software, some of which I summarize below. Overall users were most satisfied because of the inherent associativity of CAE models with design models.

Several users told stories about how, in the past, they were asked by the design team to evaluate designs and get back to them. Even with an integrated system, the CAE analysts often spend substantial amounts of time simplifying models, insuring that the mesh is adequate for an accurate design, performing a series of analyses, and making recommendations to the design team, only to find that the design team has moved way beyond the design they were working on. Thus their work had to be scrapped. NX’s CAE and design integrations allow analysts to work on the design model, thus having a better ability to stay synchronized with the design team.

Also, NX seems to play well with external solvers, often integrating them tightly into the design stream workflow. Among these were Ansys solvers as well as specialized fluids solvers, such as those from MAYA.

My reactions:
Siemens PLM Software has a well-focused and wide breadth of solutions for heavy-duty CAE experts. Jon Heidorn, Siemens PLM Software (SPLMS) Vice President welcomed the attendees, stressing that simulation is one of their fastest growing markets, encompassing integrated modeling and solutions, system level modeling, multi-discipline simulation and optimization, and the intensely complex simulation data and process management. Beyond 2010 Heidorn predicted software would be available that would perform topology optimization. SPLMS also announced that their partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing was extended to 2016.

Mark Bringle and Nelson Cosgrove of Joe Gibbs Racing discussed their facility and their focus on engineering. Building their cars from scratch, and their engines almost from scratch, but carefully following NASCAR rules for each car, provides an impetus to carefully hone each major subsystem for optimal performance. Fascinatingly, their design cycle during racing season is one week! The three main groups include chassis and vehicle dynamics, aerodynamics, and powertrain. The latest version of NX allows for full chassis FEA modeling. With NASCAR demanding similar car frames and engine performance, their engineers carefully analyze every part to improve weight and aero performance so they can achieve even small advantages over their competition.

Jim Rusk of Siemens PLM Software discussed the latest trends in product development with NX CAE Simulation. He highlighted a few concepts they are working on sand delivering to make it easier than ever. Among these are Synchronous Technology for the CA analyst which makes for easier simplification, workflows for the advanced analyst, continuing improvements in multi-discipline analysis, motion analysis for flexible bodies like springs, multi-solver support, topology optimizations, and HD3D requirements management and validation.

ATK Aerospace, MDA of Canada, and JPL, Proctor and Gamble, and Solar Technologies spoke about their analyses ranging from rocket design to cryo engineering of spacecraft to making 1 million paper diapers to designing complex solar collectors.

Hendrick Motorsports’, Charles Macdonald, discussed detailed part analysis and the tradeoffs they make for lighter, yet strong and most of all highly serviceable parts of a suspension.

Kendra Short, of JPL and the mechanical manager of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), successfully launched just two days ago, spoke eloquently about how having a sophisticated analysis system working directly on the design model enable them to perform many more complex analyses than would have been possible without simulation done directly on the design models. Without the ability to service the MSL (it’s a long trip to Mars), Ms. Short chatted about the enormous planning that goes into having multiple alternatives in the event of a failure. I found fascinating during a break discussion about how the MSL is to be deployed to the surface using a tether. No backup here, just reliable explosive bolts.

One of the symposiums objectives was to have users exchange ideas about how they use simulation. This seemed to be more than fulfilled. If you have a chance to attend the next symposium, don’t miss it.

Disclosure: Siemens paid for my travel expenses to attend the event.

Autodesk Takes Simulation Mobile with New ForceEffect App for iPad

If you have not yet had a chance to see how Autodesk ForceEffect works, visit http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4F9264A84AD2085B for a series of videos on how this 2D force simulation app works.

Autodesk ForceEffect, a new mobile simulation app for iPad allows engineers to quickly and easily simulate design options during the conceptual phase, and is now available on the App store. Autodesk, as it has done with other iPad apps, offers Autodesk ForceEffect for free.

ForceEffect provides an easy to use environment for drawing, constraining and simulating concepts using free body diagrams by tapping objects to select, move, rotate and scale. Real time solving capabilities provide immediate feedback on the static stress performance of a design, enabling users to use engineering analysis in the field.

Users can send the geometry as DXF files, via email, for further analysis.

It’s not quite clear how or whether Autodesk plans to generate revenue from these free apps, yet their thinking is way out in front of their competitors in exploring new ways to use mobile computing and simultaneously explore potential uses of cloud technology. It’s refreshing that the company is forging ahead, exploring new ways of delivering software and testing the waters for new paradigms, both in software and pricing models.