Simulating Early and Advancing Proactive Product Design
Written By: Helga Stroehle

For many companies, the product design process is essentially reactionary.  A concept is developed into a prototype, design problems surface, fixes are made, and new, more optimized designs are created.  Eventually – and, hopefully, in time to make good use of market opportunities – a final product is manufactured and shipped.  

Despite all of the advanced tools and methodologies available today, much of the engineering work done today still essentially resembles a trial and error process.  But with a new generation of integrated simulation systems, truly proactive product design is within reach.

Simulation analysis for a mold.

Using simulation, engineers can optimize designs long before production for objects like this mold.

A major step in that direction, many engineering shops are realizing, is to incorporate simulation steps as early as possible in the design process – preferably, with simulation tools built directly into the 3D CAD platform itself.  While CAE experts and post-design validation are still vitally important parts of the product development process, combining them with basic simulation very early on can provide important benefits across the entire product design workflow. With simulation, you can:

  • Optimize your design while it is still a concept.  Leveraging basic simulation tools directly into your 3D CAD platform enables product design engineers to achieve better, more efficient designs while they still exist only on a computer screen.  For many engineers, this can provide an important basis for justifying design choices, and build confidence in overall development initiatives.  Simulating designs early leads to sharper directional insight – and so higher quality design results.

  • Avoid overdesigning and resource waste.  By simulating earlier in the design process, your team can quickly identify redundant elements, opportunities to reduce material use, and potential performance problems that are easier and cheaper to solve in early design stages.  Using basic simulation features in the 3D CAD platform offers design engineers guidance, so they can produce better designs that can be further refined by your CAE team.

  • Dramatically increase prototyping value.  In most cases today, prominent design issues are discovered and remedied through a time-consuming prototyping process, where each design iteration must prove itself as a physical object before moving on to a new generation.  While prototyping remains an invaluable tool in product development, including simulation steps in that iteration process allows your team to create the best prototypes possible.  Simpler issues are resolved in the simulation, leaving prototype stages to reveal more important insights.

  • Leverage innovations from the start.  Early simulation enables 3D CAD engineers to validate design ideas immediately, and then to quickly and effectively incorporate those results into their work.  This enables your team to capture innovative ideas in nearly real time, and use them to make further innovations possible.  Building simulation into the 3D CAD platform itself allows you to evolve stronger designs in record time.

According to one recent study, 80% of leading product manufacturers are using at least basic simulation technologies to validate designs during concept phases – a majority that is only sure to grow in the coming years, as the marketplace in general continues to learn that reactionary design simply is no longer enough.  To succeed, product designers must be proactive, and the new generation of CAD-integrated simulation tools is an important step in getting there.

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Tags: CAD Predictive Analytics
About the Author Helga Stroehle