Simulation Takes on Bigger Roles in Product Development

The real world isn’t what it used to be when it comes to testing. Simulation has created a world of new product testing that puts products through scenarios that cannot be duplicated by prototypes in the real world.

The exception is with composites and some 3D-printed parts. There is not yet enough data on the new materials and 3D-printed shapes to provide accurate simulation. However, as the data from the physical testing of composites and 3D shapes are getting fed into simulation programs, those programs can begin to include new materials and shapes into the digital world of simulation.

Simulation used to be a side function, something done after preliminary design to see how the product performs in the real world. Simulation has moved to the center of the process so the product’s performance can be evaluated as it is being designed. With simulation, a wider range of different digital versions of the product can be created and tested, making simulation part of the design process itself.

One of the significant advantages of simulation is the ability to see how different structures behave as part of the whole assembly project. An example is the ability to change a part and then see how it functions within the entire assembly, even the finished product. Daimler is simulating all of the car, not just some assemblies.

With products becoming more complex, the simulation has to include a wide range of physics. With the introduction of new materials and new techniques for joining new materials together and new manufacturing capabilities like additive manufacturing, the tools and materials are seeing quite a few changes. Companies may in some instances require more physical testing, and that testing will provide data for future simulation.

Additive manufacturing opens up the possibilities for creating shapes that were not possible with other manufacturing, which may require more base-level testing to make sure it’s what you expect in the manufacturing process.

Simulation also makes it easier for collaborating teams to enter the design process. Departments such as manufacturing, sales, and even marketing, can test the effect of a new product requirement before initiating a design iteration.

Integrating simulation with design tools has also been part of the move toward bringing simulation into the heart of the design process.

>>Read more by Rob Spiigel, Design News, November 28, 2016