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Engineering Simulation to Cut Costs

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The design decisions that engineers make often have a significant impact on the final cost of the product.  The design process consists of a sequence of decisions and adjustments. By making better decisions during this design phase, engineers can use cost-saving materials without sacrificing product quality.

One product that enables better design decisions is the SolidWorks® Simulation suite. This suite provides the advanced capabilities manufacturers need to get to market faster. It enables designers to catch mistakes sooner, change course quickly, and create better-performing products at a lower cost.

We use SolidWorks for many of our customer simulation projects and are familiar with its benefits. Many of the ideas in this blog post are directly derived from the SolidWorks white paper DRIVING BETTER PRODUCT DESIGN WITH SOLIDWORKS SIMULATION.

An Improved Design Process

An Improved Design Process

Using simulation early in the design process helps to eliminate later, costly mistakes. Elimination of costly mistakes gets you to market faster. But it’s not only higher profits that drive the use of simulation tools.

According to the white paper cited above, “when managers and design team leaders become involved early in the process, they gain insights as well. With a better understanding of simulation based on finite element analysis (FEA), they can contribute to improving the product development process.”

How Improved Design Improves Profitability

There are a number of ways to cut costs, or if you will, increase profits.  In design and manufacturing you can:

  1. Build it faster
  2. Build it first
  3. Build it cheaper
  4. Build it better
  5. Empower product teams to make better design decisions

Empowerment mentioned in #5 is preferable because such empowerment automatically creates an environment where numbers 1-4 will happen automatically.

Designing Without Simulation

The design process without simulation is relatively standard across all industries:

  • Look at something that is already in production and makes it bigger, smaller or “different” in some way. While this process works, one thing it doesn’t do is make the product “better.”  It just gives a new version of an existing product. The challenge is to make it better, faster, cheaper – and the only simulation lets engineers explore those possibilities.
  • Use spreadsheets or hand calculations. While it’s true that numbers don’t lie, the fact of the matter is that in design, the numbers don’t always tell the whole truth.  Many engineers are comfortable with working the way they’ve always worked.  Some even fell that hand calculations are more reliable and accurate than unfamiliar simulation tools. However, the reality is that hand calculations require significant assumptions and simplifications in geometry, dimensional tolerance, loading, and material properties. According to the white paper, “the level of abstraction required by hand calculations often limits their value to extremely rough estimates at preselected areas of concern.”

With this in mind, let’s look at the ease of using simulation for the design process.

Designing with Simulation

An FEA-based simulation can highlight limitations with certain simplifications that are not readily apparent from the numerical or XY chart output of a hand calculation. In fact, when experts compare hand calculations to simulation, they find that simulation generates exactly the same local results as a hand calculation, but, in addition, it also enables the designers to understand the flow of load or stress throughout apart and gain additional insight for product improvement.

Moreover, the value of simulation over equivalent hand calculations is even greater more real-world, manufactural geometry is put to the test.

How We Use SolidWorks Simulation to Streamline Product Development

When we provide simulation services to our clients, we merge the process of design and analysis, rather than doing them sequentially. By combining these two tasks into a shared and iterative process, we empower our clients with better designs, so that they can develop products faster, make fewer mistakes, and become more profitable. We help our clients make decisions on form, fit, and function and confirm them in small steps throughout the design process. In this way, we help clients cut costs.

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