Where We Stand in the World of Simulations

by Trevor English23 May 2017

Whether it be finite element analysis or computational fluid dynamics, simulation technologies are crucial to designing to the highest degree. Our capabilities have come quite a long way in even just the last decade. The exponential rise of computers and the shrinking of transistors has meant that more complex simulations are becoming possible day by day. Simulation even now extends beyond just testing your design, programs are now capable of generatively designing a part based on constraints – a direct result of precise simulation.

In the 1970s, simulation just wasn’t feasible for the everyday engineer or project. It took too long and the results were less than accurate. Engineers were taught that simulation was an existing technological process, but rarely was it applied to practical design. And that brings us to today. Simulation in modern engineering design has become easier than ever. Lightning speed processing means that you can quickly generate geometry and constraints to test, easily get accurate feedback, but you likely already know all of this. As engineers, it can be easy to lose sight of the impressive power that we yield at our fingertips, and modern simulation technology is perhaps one of the most powerful tools any engineer has ever wielded.

We stand at an impressive level with current FEA capabilities, but the next level is nano-analysis. Our simulations can operate to a high level of accuracy already, but with expanded processing power and nanoscale meshes, we will soon be able to simulate on the particle level. While you may not see need for this in your component design, imagine the applications in biological and chemical designs. As 3D printing biological tissue becomes more feasible, simulating in these applications will grow ever necessary.

The other emerging technology that is currently rocking the simulation world is cloud computing. Admittedly the technology has been around for a while, but only recently has its potential fully been actualized. Decentralized computational networks enable us to perform simulations to a level that our individual machine cannot accomplish. Our power isn’t limited to the hardware we can afford, but the cloud space we can access.

We touched briefly on it at the beginning of this blog, but generative design is also beginning to play a key role in simulation. Whether you realize it or not, generative design is only enabled through our ability to simulate real world conditions to a high degree of accuracy within a component. As an engineer, you can run simulations all day long and try to iterate and refine your design – but why do that when a computer can for you? By no means does generative design eliminate the need for simulation, rather it bolsters its grave importance to efficient engineering.

Where we stand in the world of simulation is yesterday’s future. Other than being an over-dramatic way to muster up excitement for the future of simulation, that means that we face a period of simulation expansion and improvement like never seen before. Now is the time to simulate.