Manufacturing Engineering: What are some of the latest trends in simulation software for manufacturing?
Uwe Schramm, CTO, solvers, optimization and multi-physics, Altair Engineering Inc., Troy, Mich.: I see three trends here. First, manufacturing simulation software is increasingly adapted to the needs of designers and manufacturing specialists rather than catered to simulation specialists. Designers can quickly evaluate manufacturing feasibility of their design and select a cost-effective manufacturing process.
Manufacturing engineers can use the software to optimize production. Modern user experiences like Altair Inspire provide easy-to-learn access to manufacturing simulation technology. Second, because of the ease of use, manufacturing simulation becomes more commonplace and helps accelerate design and shop-floor decisions. Third, for product performance simulation, many organizations now use manufacturing simulation to initialize models with more realistic material and other properties that get manipulated during manufacturing. This helps to more accurately predict failure modes in the final product and avoid surprises with the first physical prototype.
ME: Your company recently unveiled a wide-ranging update of its simulation, design, high-performance computing (HPC) and data analytics offerings at the Altair 2020 virtual conference. What are some of the key additions?
James Scapa, chairman and CEO: It was the most significant software update release in Altair’s history. All of our software products have been updated with advancements in user experience and new features, including intuitive workflows that empower users to streamline product development, allowing customers to get to market faster. It also broadens the scope of the new user experience, enables access to more physics, data analytics, and machine learning, and makes the Altair software delivery method more flexible and accessible. Some of the most notable highlights include a new interface to Altair HyperWorks for high-fidelity CAE modeling and visualization; the integration of Altair SimSolid into Altair Inspire; and GPU acceleration in Altair AcuSolve, yielding three to four times increased speed while supporting nucleate boiling, radiation, condensation/evaporation and multiphase fluid-structure interaction.
ME: How critical has advanced simulation software become to industrial manufacturers?
Schramm: Advanced manufacturing simulation is critical in optimizing manufacturing processes. Physical tryouts are cost prohibitive and must be replaced with virtual tryouts. The optimization of a casting and mold-filling process, like the best positioning of gates and number of parallel parts, can be easily simulated and key indicators for manufacturing efficiency, like cool-down times, can be rapidly optimized.
ME: What is the impact of various other disciplines, including Big Data and machine analytics, on simulation development?
Fatma Kocer, vice president, engineering data science: Big data and machine analytics give engineers accurate information from manufacturing and operations, which helps improve the design process and the design outcome. To achieve this, we need a closed loop between field data and the simulation software as well as real-time system simulations. Data science methodologies, like machine learning, provides us the tools to do this. Engineering applications are complex systems that involve multiple physical phenomena interacting with each other, changing material properties due to aging and uncertainty in their use due to unexpected usage patterns. Big data collected from the field is the enabler for capturing what exactly happens during manufacturing and operations and helps engineers improve on their design assumptions. As we discover new things about the application as it is in the field, we would like to update the application performance. At this stage we need real-time assessment of system performance. This would require system simulations with reduced order physics and data-driven models, both of which are core differentiators in the Altair portfolio.
ME: What is the key to marrying these segments together to create best-in-class Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications?
Christian Kehrer, business development manager—systems modeling, and Alvaro Everlet Fernandez, senior vice president, IoT platform: IIoT is about converging IT and OT, the technologies that will play a critical role in Big Data analytics, the cloud, HPC, embedded systems, and CAE, with IoT playing an arterial role connecting these pieces to build cyberphysical applications for factories of the future. This will have a significant impact on the processes at each stage of the machine/product lifecycle. The key to make this happen is a robust IoT platform with an open architecture that is agnostic to the physical components, as well as providing seamless connectivity on the data side to analyze, report, alert, and run machine learning (ML) algorithms to carry out predictive/prescriptive maintenance, or undertake remaining useful life (RUL) calculations. Altair’s IoT application—Altair SmartWorks—meets these requirements by providing edge connectivity, device management, data stream processing, data storage, real-time dashboards, and seamless integration with Altair’s CAE tools or third-party services.
An example where IIoT will play an important role is with digital twins. The data-driven twin will use real-time operational data using IoT connectivity to remotely monitor the health of an individual asset, as well as provide insights on the overall efficiency of the production process across the factory floor. Meanwhile, the physics-based twin will leverage Reduced Order and 1D modeling for calibrating control systems, or use 3D modeling to get a good indication of the design changes that can be introduced to optimize the performance and life of the next-generation product. Altair has a comprehensive set of solutions for both building smart, connected products as well as for creating best-in-class IIoT applications to communicate with and manage those products while in the field.
ME: Many of Altair’s core applications, such as HyperWorks and OptiStruct, are home-grown. How important is in-house development? And how critical is cloud availability?
Schramm: As a global technology company, Altair’s core business is software development. All of our software (60+ titles) are developed in-house by a team of 1,000+ software developers, leveraging the full weight of our decades of commercial software development expertise. Moreover, as our products evolve to offer new features and functionality, our team handles updates and maintenance.
Today’s workloads are more dynamic than ever, and organizations that can supply compute-on-demand via the cloud, rather than having to source or build out on-premise infrastructure for every project, are at a distinct advantage. The cloud is key in helping our clients explore new ideas quickly to avoid opportunity cost: resources can be spun up in the cloud to make discoveries in days that might have come months later if they had to wait on building out infrastructure. Still, there is a lot to navigate when it comes to the cloud, such as the required integration expertise and cost considerations. Providing these on-ramps from a technical and professional services perspective has become an increasingly important part of our business and we expect to see that trend continue.
ME: High-end simulation has been the domain of highly trained specialists; how has that changed with the improvement in the usability of today’s simulations, which help reach a wider user base?
James Dagg, CTO, design and simulation solutions: One of the biggest trends we see in product development, and a core philosophy of Altair, is simulation-driven design. In order to democratize simulation and give a wider base of engineers and designers the same insights once reserved for analysis specialists, we saw a need to dramatically update our user experience. We built efficient and intuitive workflows to meet their needs without losing any of the features and solver accuracy our users have come to expect. The result is a reimagined Altair HyperWorks that brings all applications under one common user experience, leveraging domain knowledge and AI with advanced solutions for NVH, crash, CFD, manufacturing, and more. From concept design to detailed product development, through manufacturing simulation and system-level digital twins, we’ve integrated the HyperWorks suite for the product lifecycles of today’s complex and connected products. The next-generation HyperWorks experience enables a team to move from physics to physics, domain to domain, or even create reports without ever leaving the model.
Siemens Launches Cloud-Based Teamcenter
Siemens Digital Industries Software, Plano, Texas, has added a new cloud-based version of its Teamcenter product lifecycle management (PLM) with the addition of Teamcenter X, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) addition to its Xcelerator portfolio.
The new Teamcenter X is said to allow companies of all sizes to implement, scale, and integrate PLM technology. Teamcenter X offers the convenience of choosing from preconfigured engineering and business solutions, with the flexibility to add more capabilities as business needs grow. The software brings cloud capability to all users to help reduce time-to-market and connect distributed, cross-disciplinary teams while improving effectiveness and efficiency at scale, according to Siemens.
“Teamcenter X is an important evolutionary step for Siemens’ enterprise data and process management solution,” said Peter Bilello, president and CEO of CIMdata Inc., an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based research and consulting group. “It leverages a new and modern cloud platform with best practices built-in, and [offers] a business model in which Siemens has removed the burden of operating PLM for companies of all sizes.”
With this latest SaaS extension to Siemens’ Xcelerator portfolio, Teamcenter X can help customers realize PLM benefits and streamline product development, according to Siemens. Companies can connect PLM with familiar applications for secure, agile, collaboration across the enterprise, and across functional domains. With an open, multi-CAD approach and integrations to other Siemens software tools—such as NX CAD/CAM and Solid Edge for mechanical design, Mentor software for electronic CAD, and Polarion X software for application lifecycle management (ALM)—Teamcenter X creates a multi-domain bill of materials (BOM) to provide visibility to the complete digital twin, including mechanical, electrical, and software components.
The new software features predictive artificial intelligence (AI) elements, with preconfigured solutions such as Engineering Change and Release Management. Built on the Mendix software application platform, the knowledge contained in Teamcenter X can be integrated and extended across the enterprise.
In addition, Siemens also announced Teamcenter Share, a new cloud-based, design-centric project collaboration service designed for companies that want to move to an engineering-focused collaboration tool from local and networked hard drives, or generic cloud storage solutions. Share enables product development stakeholders to synchronize desktop files to secure cloud storage, where they can view and mark up all common CAD formats from any device and share project work with other stakeholders to facilitate collaboration on product development projects. Teamcenter Share also provides augmented reality capabilities accessible from a tablet or smartphone to enable users to better understand how designs will function in the intended environment.
Hexagon Updates SMIRT NC Software
Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, North Kingstown, R.I., has released its SMIRT 2021 software, from Hexagon Production Software, that features new NC functionality for machining planar surfaces and pockets.
SMIRT NC’s drag-and-drop capabilities are now complemented in the 2021 release by two new automated strategies geared toward high-speed cutting of 2D surfaces on stamping die castings. With a simplified set of parameters and intelligent default values, NC users of all skill levels will be able to create consistent, efficient toolpaths, according to Hexagon.
Customer requests to generate fast, optimized milling paths for large planar faces with ribs and openings have also been fulfilled, and the updated software’s enhancements to the Page Manager have improved toolpath management, the company said. Page Manager enhancements include the ability to create named groups and functions for copying and modifying existing toolpaths, which speeds up the process of creating finish paths that use the same tool setup as the rough paths. These new functions increase the efficiency of SMIRT NC, removing some user-intensive practices from the operator’s workflow, according to Hexagon. The user interface, focused on the needs of the target market of automotive toolmakers, makes the learning curve faster than before.
Open Mind Updates hyperMILL Software
CAD/CAM developer Open Mind Technologies, Needham, Mass., has launched the hyperMILL 2020.2 CAD/CAM Software Suite, featuring an advanced automation center and other enhanced features for optimizing machining.
The latest hyperMILL CAD/CAM software offers users new and enhanced features for efficient 3D and five-axis machining, such as the hyperMILL Automation Center Advanced option.
New features include the addition of plunge-milling cycles to the 3D and five-axis strategies for machining cutting edges. Material is removed by plunging movements to reduce vibration and improve surface finish, which is especially helpful for machining edges with steep walls. During five-axis machining, undercut areas can also be reached by specifying the lateral inclination on the tilted tool. By specifying a distance, circular or linear movement profile, the tool is optimally retracted from the part.
Due to an enhanced mirror path function, users have shorter calculation times and improved process reliability, according to Open Mind. The mirror path function now enables simple mirroring of previously calculated toolpaths so the machining direction is also mirrored to effectively make climb milling a conventional milling process. The software also retains the original mirror function, where toolpaths for symmetrical components are recalculated on the basis of mirrored geometry data.
The software’s new Automation Center Advanced option adds numerous additional features and templates to the software’s automation capabilities. Templates allow the user to define and standardize complex processes independent of the specific geometry from any one CAD model. All the individual steps for data preparation and programming are defined for applying them to a new model and automatically executing them. The user is interactively guided through the automated process steps and can be prompted to make relevant choices during the automation sequence if desired.
Components can now be parametrically modeled directly in hyperCAD-S, which is especially helpful for fast, production-related designs. Parametric geometry data used in hyperMILL is associatively linked and, when there are any changes, is automatically updated.
New 3D Grinding Software
ANCA, a Melbourne, Australia-based developer of grinding machines, announced the new CIM3D V9 release of its CIMulator3D software, which has an upgraded interface with fresh colors and icons. This new release adds the latest technology and software design, offering users a range of time-saving benefits and interactive visualization, according to ANCA.
The release responds to what customers want and need for effective tool grinding simulation, stated Thomson Mathew, ANCA software product manager. “CIM3D V9 allows for customization based on regularly-used features no matter which industry,” he said. “The simulation quality of ANCA’s software [allows users to] simulate complete grinding sequences,” Mathew said.
The offline capabilities of using the latest CIM3D version mean background calculations can be verified, increasing machine productivity, he added. “This not only maximizes machine time, but for those working from home CIM3D can be run independently on any computer, so it is possible to program remotely,” Mathew said.
The ANCA update automates many manual steps and introduces process verification and analysis in a central hub for improved cycle time and better wheel and tool life. Collisions can be detected automatically, making the software easier to use. New features save time while simulating the programmed toolpath exactly as it would be ground on the machine. The software offers clearer visualization with the customizable timeline panel—effectively a central dashboard for quicker and easier tool analysis—and new tool programs can be verified for size, shape, machine clearance, and cycle time estimates, according to ANCA.