Simulation Highlights Design Flaws Early in Product Development

Written By: Mark Hindsbo
  • CAD
  • 3/5/2019
Man views model with simulation applied

Product development has become so complex that back-of-the-napkin calculations and empirical methods have lost much of their utility. In other words, something that looks good on paper may not work when it’s being validated by simulations and physical prototypes.

Intuition is no longer sufficient for product designers--Scott Gilmore, ANSYS

“Given how complex products are these days, it’s virtually impossible to understand how the product will perform without simulation,” says Scott Gilmore, director of business development for design products at ANSYS. “Intuition is no longer a sufficient tool for product designers.”

Without simulation, design flaws can hide within a product late into its development cycle. Some flaws may even make it to the field. These flaws can trigger expensive redesigns — even recalls. To be on the safe side, engineers often overdesign parts which leads to heavy, even bulky, products.

When product designers use simulation early in development, however, they are better equipped to discover these design flaws. In fact, simulating concepts at the start of development — with tools like PTC Creo Simulation Live and ANSYS Discovery Live — can uncover many of these design flaws or overdesigns near the beginning of development when they are easy and affordable to fix.

How Designers Can Learn Simulation and Find Design Flaws Early

Simulation can increase product performance insight by an order of magnitude, so designers are more likely to discover design flaws and optimize their models before costly analysis and prototyping. The challenge is that product designers are not always accustomed to simulation workflows, so it is difficult for them to gain these insights.

“Traditional simulation tools force designers to learn meshing, geometry cleanup, and other simulation concepts. These software offerings don’t speak the language of product designers,” says Gilmore. PTC Creo Simulation Live and ANSYS Discovery Live simplify the simulation workflow.

“With these technologies, the meshing happens automatically, and the simulation inputs are simplified,” explains Gilmore. “The geometry also doesn’t need to be cleaned up, which is traditionally the largest time drain.”

The goal is to simplify the simulation tools to the point where product designers only need to understand general physics to explore the behaviors of their designs.
“The software needs to speak the language of product designers,” adds Gilmore. “Because Creo Simulation Live is integrated within the computer-aided design (CAD) modeling environment, it simplifies the workflow further as it lives in the user interface that product designers see every day.”

How Simulation Empowers Product Designers to Finds Flaws

Product designers find simulation empowering. Every time they find and fix a design flaw, they can be confident that it won’t trigger a redesign down the line. Overall, this saves the product designer — and the entire product development team — a considerable amount of time.
Additionally, product designers can be more creative when they use tools like PTC Creo Simulation Live and ANSYS Discovery Live.

“The tools are so fast and reliable that there are no excuses. You want to start simulating your designs, so you can test your ideas and find flaws right away,” says Gilmore. “And while you’re at it, why not get creative? Explore new ideas to see how they affect the product performance."

This experimentation leads the product designer to create more optimal designs earlier in development. Best of all, these optimal designs are far less likely to end up back on the product designer’s desk later in development.

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  • CAD

About the Author

Mark Hindsbo

Mark Hindsbo is the vice president and general manager of the ANSYS Design Business Unit. He has previously worked as vice president of the Developer Business at Microsoft, co-founded an interactive digital agency, and done nuclear research at CERN. Hindsbo has a Master of Science degree in applied physics and mathematics from the Technical University of Denmark.