With simulation software, engineers can analyze stresses on product designs without having to do any physical testing. Wow, that sounds like such a time-saver, you might be thinking. (It is!) Or you might be thinking that simulation sounds like it could save you money. (It can!)
So why do so many engineers choose not to use simulation when designing products? It has long been thought to be too expensive, too difficult to use, or that products are too mature for redesign. (Nothing is too old to be redesigned.) It’s also sometimes seen as a tool that is used only for predicting failure—but it can be so much more.
Subi Shah of Product Design & Development debunks some popular myths and misconceptions regarding the use of simulation:
Myth 1: Some Products Are Too Simple to Need Simulation.
Facts: Simulation can reveal flaws that would be impossible to find through physical testing. It can determine the effect of stresses over time and calculate fatigue for the product. With simulation, an engineer could redesign a product so that it doesn’t use as much material or doesn’t have such a complex structure, thereby lowering the cost of material, manufacturing time, and the overall cost of the product.
Myth 2: Some Products Are Too Old or Mature for Simulation.
For existing products, or those further along in the cycle, simulation offers a way to minimize any further costs and risks associated with testing by reducing the amount of time it takes to figure out what the issues are.
Myth 3: Simulation Is Too Expensive.
While it’s true that purchasing simulation software has an upfront cost, it pays for itself over time by reducing material costs, eliminating the need for costly testing equipment (such as wind tunnels), and limiting the need for physical testing.
Myth 4: Simulation Is Too Difficult.
Using simulation software does require some skill, but is it really too difficult? Simulation functions are now included in many tools, such as Autodesk Nastran In-CAD and Fusion 360, so many more designers are adopting simulation because simulating early and often helps avoid issues earlier.
Myth 5: Simulation Is Only for Predicting Failure.
You can use simulation to optimize designs and to test multiple design options quickly without prototyping. It’s also used to determine how a product will react to stresses put on it in physical conditions not easy to provide for, such as in space.