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Simulation Drives Advanced Manufacturing Trends

Paolo Guglielmini President and CEO  MSC Software
By Paolo Guglielmini President and CEO , MSC Software

Manufacturing Engineering: How did you become involved with simulation software?

Paolo Guglielmini: I worked with simulation software as a mechanical engineering student and a professional engineer at CERN. My experience of using Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) simulation tools during this time has helped to shape MSC Software’s philosophy of open simulation technologies built around ease of use. As a student, and later as an engineer working with simulation software, I found the steep learning curve meant that it took months to be able to exploit just 20 percent of the capabilities of a piece of software. I saw how this was an insurmountable barrier to entry for those organizations with less resources or lower skills.

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Generative design of a Formula racing wheel carrier.

Today, it is a given that engineers need to put data to work and simulation should be at the center of digital strategies. This has inspired MSC’s customer-oriented business philosophy to make today’s technological innovations accessible to businesses of all sizes, and in all industries as part of Hexagon’s smart solutions portfolio.

ME: What is driving greater use of simulation software?

Guglielmini: Simulation software has traditionally been used to predict the behavior of a product or system before designs are finalized and to understand the cause of failures after they have happened so that they can be avoided in the future. Even so, there remain significant differences between the behaviors of an as-designed virtual product and the corresponding as-manufactured physical product, and simulation is increasingly being used to capture more factors such as detailed material characteristics, the manufacturing processes (especially with the adoption of new additive manufacturing technologies), the variations in the environment in which the product will likely be used, and the different scenarios (manual or autonomous) in which the product could be used.

Another key area is autonomous mobility solutions, such as self-driving cars. Here, virtual testing and digital training grounds are the only feasible methods to enable development. Road tests and real-world data provide validation, but the volume and variety of permutations required demand an accurate simulated environment where the road conditions, traffic, vehicle dynamics and sensors can be set to reflect anything that might affect the safe operation of the vehicle.

In addition, with advances in measurement techniques, sensors, communication speeds and computational power, it has become possible for simulations to be used to assess real-time conditions for making operational decisions, helping realize the concept of digital twins. For example, beyond manufacturing, real-time simulation is helping our automotive customers to test vehicle hardware within a simulation and energy customers to de-risk oil drilling operations, where predicting drill failure can avoid lost production.

Sustainability is also becoming an increasingly important driver. Energy efficiency and carbon reduction are driving the need for innovations such as composite lightweighting and multi-physics optimization that depend heavily on simulation. As part of Hexagon, we look to areas where we can improve sustainability by improving business outcomes. All of these drivers have combined to significantly increase the usage of simulation throughout the lifecycle of a product or system.

ME: How has simulation software improved?

Guglielmini: We are continuously improving solution engines to be able to combine different physics and chemistry to more accurately represent various situations and make effective use of computing technologies. There have also been advances in coupled or chained multiscale simulations, all the way from microstructure-based materials engineering to full system-level simulations.

Today, simulations run much faster. With the easy availability of improved computing resources, both on-premise and in the cloud, simulation can be used to make more confident decisions much more efficiently by considering multi-physics information. One example is simulating a wing’s dynamics in parallel with the applied non-linear stresses caused by vibrations and airflow during a maneuver. We have reached a point where simulation is free and unlimited, but we have also moved to a point where design cycles and accuracy are being improved by an order of magnitude using multi-physics when the business case can be applied. Previously, simulation workflows have been 80 percent approximation and it’s exciting to see how more affordable computing can help access larger design spaces and find more optimal solutions.

It’s not just about performance and accuracy. There have also been advances in usability and simulation-based workflows. For example, at MSC we have also focused on incorporating information about how manufacturing processes affect a part to provide manufacturing professionals actionable information to optimize a manufactured system’s cost and quality. While traditional CAD-based simulation workflows will continue to be important, new approaches such as generative design and image-based simulation workflows based on metrology are making simulations much more effective and accessible in new applications, and as a source of real-time feedback within industrial processes.

ME: What changes can we expect with simulation software over the next five years?

Guglielmini: I think we are going to see CAE diverge in a number of paths. While the core improvements to simulation accuracy and performance will continue as in the past, we should expect significant changes in terms of both the technology and usage paradigms very soon. Generative design approaches powered by simulation will become even more widely adopted, which in turn will drive simulations of the manufacturing processes needed to make those resulting innovative designs.

Measuring and assessing the impact of differences between the virtual product design and the physical product is already driving the adoption of image-based simulation workflows, where a computer model of the physical product is created using imaging techniques such as laser or Computed Tomography (CT) scanning and then is used for subsequent simulations. Bridging the gap between physical and virtual products will be a key driver for more effective use of simulation, and it will require simulation software to adapt to fulfill more varied use cases.

Simulation will also increasingly be used to predict how a product will behave in various environments. For example, an autonomous vehicle must account for many of the uncertain conditions under which it may operate, including road conditions, weather, sensor inputs, sensor errors or pedestrian behavior. For these simulations to be effective, it will be important to capture and bring the real-world environment into a virtual, simulation-ready framework where thousands of simulations can be run. This magnitude of simulations will, in turn, drive adoption of machine learning and other techniques to efficiently interpret and extract value from the simulations. Broadly speaking, today’s simulation is used to “engineer” but now I believe it will be central to product lifecycles, from design conceptualization to powering business decision-making and the next generation of automation and productivity.

ME: Describe how manufacturers can end the “walled kingdoms” prevalent today in CAE engineering software.

Guglielmini: Far from Industry 4.0 creating a “connected” end-to-end supply chain, today many 3D printers and protocols are creating “walled kingdoms” of hardware that is incompatible with certain CAE tools, and vendors are introducing machines with proprietary connectivity, standards and protocols designed not to work with machinery from rivals. Just as OEMs drove the provision of open factory automation, it’s important we vendors now break down barriers to new manufacturing technologies that offer more flexibility and efficiency.

We also see competing standards for virtual car testing, and even rival formats and conventions for the road data vital to the development of autonomous vehicles. This lack of consensus is crazy given the scale of genuine challenges we face developing ADAS 2+ [advanced driver-assistance systems] and future self-driving cars. There are also walls between different parts of the supply chain, with design houses, suppliers and manufacturers often operating in silos and working to competing priorities and deadlines that could instead be better aligned to the needs of the OEMs that they ultimately serve.

The consequences are that the software industry is failing to collectively increase the sum of human knowledge, new insights are not being transferred across projects and sectors, and progress is being impeded.

Instead, open data standards should be seen as a growth enabler. For example, valuable data on road surfaces for autonomous vehicles needs to be represented in a format compatible with all forms of driving simulation software. We need open standards and standard interfaces for computer-aided engineering tools and every model of 3D printer and industrial equipment on the market. We need connected end-to-end workflows. Data on everything from the cost to sustainability of new parts or products must be made available to those who need it—ideally at the design stage before major costs are incurred.

ME: What are some new CAE products from MSC?

Guglielmini: At CES 2020 in January, we released a game changer for CAE testing of self-driving car systems: Adams-ready VTD [Virtual Test Drive]. This combines vehicle dynamics and virtual test drive simulation to accelerate the development of ADAS and safe autonomous vehicles.

Automotive manufacturers have validated their Adams vehicle dynamics models with road tests to understand a vehicle’s movements and handling, and now using an open interface they can make use of that engineering effort and “drive” these vehicles in a simulated road environment provided by our VTD platform. Adams-ready VTD combines these two platforms’ capabilities by simulating a vehicle’s movements based on road conditions to determine the vehicle’s behavior. OEMs and self-driving algorithm developers can use this accurate information to ensure systems take the best course of action, such as whether to change lanes, or how much to brake in all circumstances. It is also very beneficial in the development of sensor fusion, which is fundamental to ADAS 2+.

Apex Generative Design, launched in November, automates the creation of perfectly smooth, stress-optimized lightweight designs that can be 3D printed without further finishing. A design engineer without CAE knowledge need only specify the material properties and required load to create several valid design candidates within the design space. We are also integrating this with our metal and polymer AM simulation so it will be possible to automatically design parts for a target AM process and material.

Siemens Updates Simcenter 3D Software

Siemens Digital Industries Software, Plano, Texas, has released the latest version of Simcenter 3D software, part of the Simcenter portfolio of simulation and test solutions. Simcenter 3D helps product engineering teams be more productive and produce consistent simulation results with a unified, shared platform covering most simulation disciplines, according to the company.

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Simcenter 3D’s new ray acoustics solution treats high-frequency sound behavior as if it were a ray of light in order to simulate large geometries and higher frequencies for applications like exterior ramp noise or interior cabin noise for aircraft, or for automotive parking sensor pulse simulations.

The latest version updates the company’s CAE solution to help optimize design and deliver innovations faster and with greater confidence. It includes improvements in several key areas, including multi-discipline integration, with new simulation methods that increase realism and deliver better insight into product performance, and faster CAE processes, with a new Noise Vibration and Harshness (NVH) composer tool that helps engineers create system-level finite-element (FE) models, according to Siemens.

The software also has improved ties to the Digital Thread in seamless integration with data management from Simcenter that is now extended to the physical testing group. It features open and scalable solutions, with Simcenter 3D being an open environment where engineers and designers can gain the benefits of using Simcenter 3D in connection with other CAE solvers. Simcenter 3D and the Simcenter portfolio are part of the Xcelerator portfolio, Siemens’ integrated portfolio of software, services and application development platform.

Verisurf Adds New Mobile Companion App

Metrology software developer Verisurf Software Inc., Anaheim, Calif., has released its new mobile Verisurf Companion App, which is designed to improve productivity of measurement, build, and inspection applications, especially when large parts or assemblies are involved. The App brings real-time metrology digital readout (DRO) to Android and iOS devices, including the Apple watch.

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The new Verisurf mobile Companion App lets users access Verisurf inspection data on the go using either Android or Apple iOS devices, including the Apple Watch.

“At Verisurf, we have always been about creating practical measurement and inspection solutions; engaging and listening to our customers to help guide development. The mobile Verisurf Companion App is the latest example of this type of customer-based innovation,” said Verisurf President and CEO Ernie Husted.

The App interfaces directly with Verisurf Software and virtually all measurement hardware devices to display real-time coordinate position, as well as 3D deviation from nominal geometry on any handheld Android or Apple device. The mobile connection with Verisurf software is established via any wireless access point, enabling remote features including: Build, enabling instantly seeing Build/Inspect results in real-time; and Auto-Inspect, which brings the functionality of Verisurf’s Auto-Inspect to a mobile device.

The software allows starting inspection plans, triggering the measurement device and more, and functionality to view, browse, and search Verisurf Reports using the Companion App. A Bar Code Scanner enables loading any Verisurf job file with mobile bar code (QR) scanning by pressing the Verisurf Icon in Settings. The mobile Verisurf Companion App is free to Verisurf customers.

Hexagon Adds Updated SURFCAM

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, North Kingstown, R.I., has released SURFCAM 2020.1, which features enhancements including toolpath associativity for the face mill cycle, an option to extend the solution’s parallel lace toolpath, and enhanced additive undercutting, among about 30 new updates.

Alongside the new SURFCAM 2020.1, the optional CAD for CAM Designer module has replaced Part Modeler. From model design to part repair and modification, SURFCAM Designer offers solutions for taking geometry through to manufacture.

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The SURFCAM 2020.1 update adds more than 30 new features, including toolpath associativity for the face mill cycle.

SURFCAM 2020.1 enhances the additive lace cycle’s “undercut” function by allowing the user to set a maximum overhang angle. The new release significantly enhances the existing SURFCAM chamfering cycle with five new pieces of functionality, which are similar to those already found in the profiling cycle, according to the company. Greater toolpath control is achieved with the new cut increment and Z-offset modifiers.

The update includes Face Mill Cycle Lead and Stock enhancements. “Toolpath associativity is a vital factor when programming production components, as CAD modifications can take considerable time,” said Product Manager John Buehler. “SURFCAM 2020.1 removes such delays by making the face mill cycle sensitive to the stock model. When either the stock or component solid model are altered, the toolpath automatically adjusts both the X-Y and the Z height of the toolpath.” Secondly, the lead modifier now helps increase tool life with a horizontal lead type, which rolls the cutter into the initial face of the material, reducing cutting forces.

The toolpath in the parallel lace cycle can now be extended. The function is similar to the one in the profiling cycle, which has been brought in following requests from users.

The Tombstone Manager has evolved and is helpful for production engineers working with multiple batch quantities. This latest release introduces two enhancements controlling the deployment of each tool, with two new “priority” functions. SURFCAM 2020.1 now fully supports turrets with half positions. This is where the turret has numbered positions like a clock face, with a further set between the main positions.

Accenture to Acquire Symantec’s Cyber Security Business

Accenture, New York, has agreed to acquire Symantec’s Cyber Security Services business from San Jose, Calif.-based Broadcom Inc. No financial terms for the acquisition were disclosed.

The acquisition will make Accenture Security one of the leading providers of managed security services, according to Accenture, further enhancing its ability to help companies rapidly anticipate, detect and respond to cyber threats.

Symantec’s portfolio of Cyber Security Services includes global threat monitoring and analysis through a network of security operation centers around the world, real-time adversary and industry-specific threat intelligence and incident response services.

Software Update is edited by Contributing Editor Patrick Waurzyniak; contact him at

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