SolidWorks & Design Simulation
Back on April 25, Dana Parrish, COSMOS Territory Technical Manager for SolidWorks, was in town to give a COSMOSWorks presentation to the Redstone Arsenal branch of the North Alabama SolidWorks User Group (NASWUG). The presentation was titled The Who, What, When, Why, & How of Design Simulation. (Dana and Ramesh Lakshmipathy, a SolidWorks AE, also gave this presentation at the Nashville, TN, SWUGN Summit, along with a COSMOSFloWorks demonstration during lunch.)
In the design simulation presentation, Dana spoke to each of those points about using the COSMOS line of products to simulate your design from the start, effectively creating digital prototypes. Sound familiar? I guess they had to use the terminology "design simulation" as some other company claims they invented the term "digital prototype", but I digress…
I’m sure most of you have heard all the hype about this recently, but all it really means is that you are simulating how your design will perform in the real world before you actually cut metal to create a real prototype. This allows you to get a first-look at how functional your design is, and enables to you to make changes faster, easier,and cheaper than making real parts right off the bat.
This is really nothing new, but what is exciting is that SolidWorks is making this analytical functionality accessible to more users. Now there are some who think this idea is not so hot, as FEA, fluid dynamics, and their ilk takes some expertise to do correctly. And I agree for the most part that casual CAD users should not just start running FEA and not have their final design validated by an expert. But by opening up this functionality to more users, you can zero in on your design goals more efficiently.
Traditionally, you would pass your design off to your analysis department (or farm it out) for analysis, or worse, just start cutting metal for testing. This can get expensive quick! By quickly testing and verifying your design using SolidWorks’ design simulation and validation tools, you can speed time to market. Of course, you should still have an expert analyst verify your final design and test real prototypes if your application demands it, but there will still be time and cost savings realized.
John McEleney spoke to this very issue when he spoke to our user group on June 11 of last year:
"He brought up the issue of globalization, and how companies and engineers have to start reacting more quickly to adapt to changes in the world economy. This includes focusing more on reliable up front analysis to enable faster time to market and looking at alternate materials when designing.
"He spoke of how the role of engineer has evolved from someone with a calculator and sketch pad working with a draftsman to one who models and details their own designs, and how the role was again growing to include detailed analysis as well."
It’s easy to see the path they are on; they are evolving to accommodate the growing roles of engineers and designers. Since SolidWorks purchased COSMOS, it has been integrating those tools more tightly into SolidWorks. It is now virtually seamless to switch between the modeling and analysis environments, and more of your modeling constraints and design intent carries over easily.
Their goal hasn’t changed; it is still to provide designers and engineers with the tools needed to help them design better, faster, and cheaper in an ever-changing world. I can’t wait to see what 2009 has in store!
Edited for grammer/spelling 4/23/2008 – bdm