Join Autodesk at the International CAE Simulation Conference 2014

The Autodesk Simulation team will be attending and presenting at the International CAE Simulation Conference in Verona, Italy next week. The team will be there available to have open discussions about where we are going and how we can help. We are looking forward to connecting with our Italian friends and learning more about the challenges that you are facing.

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Specifically, we will be presenting on The Role of Advanced Materials in Lightweighting on Tuesday the 29th at 11a. We will discuss the trends we are seeing both near term and those that are in the experimental phase. In addition, we will discuss simulation tools that we have at Autodesk that help customers build confidence into the design and manufacturing process. Come see us and let’s have a chat.

Surface Wrapping for CFD on Autodesk Labs

CFD engineers around the world deal with geometry from multiple sources. From various CAD systems, to various surfacing systems and more recently scanned data. Some of this geometry is “clean”, but most of it is not quite ready for meshing. In fact, most is nowhere near ready for meshing. Recent surveys, we found that CFD users were spending ~70% of their simulation time cleaning up geometry for meshing. 70%. That’s alot of time.

There are various manual methods and even a few automated utilities to make the process easier. But, the fact is, its the number one hurdle many of us face in getting result in any CFD application. The team at Autodesk is looking at a variety of methods to help make this process easier. The goal near term is to make it easier. The goal long term is to make it go away altogether.

One of these initiatives is Project Ventus. Ventis is greek for wind. We thought it appropriate as we are focusing on external aerodynamic simulations to start. These consist of the standard flow over planes, trains and automobiles. But in the Autodesk world, it also means flow over buildings, bridges and city landscapes. Each are unique in their own right, but all have similar geometric challenges. There are overlapping surfaces, gaps in the models, surface imperfections etc.

Project Ventus offers surface wrapping technology that allows users to take geometry from anywhere, as-is. It then automatically detects the imperfections and creates an external wrapped surface as an external skin of the model. This new wrapped model can then be brought directly into Autodesk Simulation CFD.

Surface wrapping technology has existed for a number of years, but usually requires a fair amount of expertise to dial in the controls properly. The goal of Project Ventus is to eliminate that need for expertise and work to automate the process. We are very interested in your feedback. Click here or the above link to sign up to test Ventus and let us know what you think. Project Ventus requires an active Autodesk Simulation CFD license.

Do we need more standards in CAE Interoperability?

Everywhere we turn, there are discussions about MCAD Interoperability. Sometimes, it’s extended to include “CAE” Interoperability. But, I think its fair to say, most are referring to CAD and geometry. There are a variety of solutions and standards that have been established over the years. From IGES thru STEP thru “richer” formats like JT. CAD Interoperability is a broad topic, but it seems to fall into two categories – viewing and actual reuse. Each is at different levels of maturity and will likely continue to evolve. Especially if services like GrabCAD and the like keep popping up.

But what about Simulation? Is there enough demand out there for more effort around interoperability standards? There are some standards in meshing around universal (UNV) files, but safe to say, its at a very basic level. If you are in the Nastran world, there are things like Bulk Data Files (BDF) and even Nastran (NAS) files. Back in my early days as a CFD guy, we used CGNS files similar to the way the CAD guys used IGES. I wonder if there is a desire to have standardized mesh formats and/or solver formats. The simple answer is, of course. But, is the problem big enough to warrant the effort and to move to standardization? Not sure.

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However, what about visualization? Seems to me that users are passionate about their solvers, maybe even passionate about what mesh they use. But, are we on the brink of a shift in how we visualize results? Not to take anything away from the individual “post processors” on the market. But, wondering if there is a need to expand the usage and applicability of visualization. A trend we’ve noticed is that there is a desire to broaden the access to simulation results and information. We’ve found that there isn’t as much a desire to perform the post processing and hunt and peck for answers. But, there is a desire to share information visually. There are some solutions out, but most are very basic.

One would think with the explosion of mobile device usage, we should be thinking about standards and new ways to present ALL of our results in a similar format so that a broader audience could absorb and learn from the information?

What do you think? Is this a big enough problem that warrants some thought? Would you prefer web access? How about mobile? What information do you find most valuable that would need to be included?

CONNECT! 2014 European Moldflow User Meeting

Every year at this time, the best and the brightest in the Moldflow community gather in a handful of locations across Europe. The event is called CONNECT! and as the name implies the goal is to share openly about experiences, successes and struggles within the Plastics and Advanced Materials industries. I attended the event in Frankfurt which was a packed house of over 170 attendees. It’s hosted by MF Software, a Gold Partner for Autodesk and reseller of Autodesk Moldflow.

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This years event had a number of presentations from customers as well as a very well known researcher in the area of fiber orientation, Professor Charles Tucker. The topics ranged from conformal cooling, to light weighting to advances in research and development. One thing that sets the plastic injection simulation world apart is that many of these companies are on the bleeding edge of manufacturing. They are constantly pushing themselves to develop higher quality products with faster and cheaper methods. Many are exploring new methods and working with Autodesk simultaneously to develop the method and the simulation methodologies. This poses unique challenges for us as a vendor, but also for out customers. The need to have a tight knit community is essential for all of us to keep the pace that is required.

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In addition to the customers and researchers, as expected, Autodesk was there in force. In many cases it was to sit and listen and learn what the challenges are and in other cases, we were able to share where we are going and validate our plans so that we can deliver as much value as possible. We had a variety of breakout sessions, including a town hall style meeting which was broken into smaller groups. I’ve been doing this along time, but have to say the town hall meetings were the most valuable. The community came prepared and had some really interesting challenges that they are trying to tackle. We had members of Product Management as well as the head of R&D present to have open, candid conversations.

We also did something unique this year. We had folks from our User Experience (UX) team attend and they were booked solid with 1:1 interviews showing prototypes of things we are working on as well as gathering feedback on what’s working and what’s not. This is fairly rare in the high end simulation space to take the time to do formal interviews on workflows and general UX. Autodesk kicked started this aggressive approach at Autodesk University last year where we had a team of UX professionals interviewing customers for the four days we were there. The feedback was amazing and helped define alot of where we are headed this year.

The team is headed to Paris for tomorrow’s event. I am looking forward to hearing the feedback. I was proud to be a part of the event. Our customers are doing amazing things and our team is working very hard to deliver on our promise of Customer First.