Simulation: DS Simulia Conference, Vienna – as it happened

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We’re in the city of prancing horses, good cake and schnitzel to learn more about simulation. It makes sense on some level.

After rattling through even more acquisitions of late – FE Design and Simpoe – it should be interesting to see how these are fitting into the big DS family.

The presentations are about to begin, including notable ones from BMW and Ethicon Surgical Care.

I assume a lot of this might get a little technical. Hang in there with me, we’ll get through this together after the jump:

Day One

8.45 – Bernard Charles is first up after the introductions. 3D Experience is getting a promotion as expected – read what we understand of that here.

8.50 – £350m spent on Gemcom “Now we’re number one in mining, and Simulia will impact this”.


8.55 – “It’s a way to connect all the dots,” says Bernie, pointing to an image of the DS brand alongside the likes of Google and Amazon. Later this year design online and simulation online is coming.

9.00 – “The time over for closed companies that think all info is inside… That is why we are doing these web services.”

9.05 – Bernie’s sounding quite bullish about Simpoe – plastics injection simulation – expecting it to be “best of breed”.

9.10 – “Most of your bosses don’t know what you do… I think it’s time to make what you do more visible… It’s about coaching the management about what they don’t know [to help make decisions].”

“Documentation is boring, Experience is exciting!” Hmm…

9.13 – There seems to be a thought that social online apps – with hash tagging and dashboarding – is the way forward for making the professional tools better.

9.15 – Rudolf Blaim, (deep breath) department manager requirement management and verification in process IT Idea To Offer, BMW Group, is now up.

9.18 – We’re getting a very slow history of some fast cars.

9.22 – I’ll let you know when we get onto simulation…

9.26 – This is going slooooow, so I’ll point you in the direction of BMW’s signing of its Catia and Simulia contract for a bit of background here.

9.35 – Ooh, hang on, Rudolf’s perked up: BMW is using it for its zero prototype design process.

There was no soft-tooling or prototyping done right up until the first crash test of the 6 Series Gran Coupe – passive safety tests done all in Simulia.

9.40 – Its not just crash testing, engines, brakes and even screws are modelled and tested. BMW can now predict engine firing cylinder liner life, improve braking performance and lots more.

9.45 – Beemer is pumping out that much simulation that it’s increased its hardware to a 20,000 core high performance computing unit housed in Iceland (which also uses Eco power from natural resources to power it).

9.48 – The i Series of cars are electric, which puts a whole new set of demands on automotive design. Rudolf appears to be getting a little more cheerier.

9.55 – Abaqus crush simulation and Simulia have been important in the i Series design. I thought that would be the case.

10.50 – We’re back after our (copious amounts of high caffeine) coffee break, and have shuffled into a customer talk we might actually be able to keep up with. Why? Because its Tetra Pak, Sweden’s finest food and drink packagers.

It’s going to give us an insight into how Moldflow and Abaqus is used to bring us milk cartons and the like.

10.51 – After a list of thanks worthy of a gushing awards acceptance speech, Eksil Andreasson tells us that Tetra Pak last year produced 173,234,000,000 items. That’s a lot of milk…

Advanced polymer chemistry “not rocket science” but quite impressively mind boggling nonetheless.

10.55 – Moldflow allows for a lot of different settings and mechanical properties, not only for producing the bottles and cartons, but of the products. Nobody wants a product to break and spill all over them.

Coupling Moldflow with Abaqus has required an advanced interface, needed for analysing different physical thickness testing. Crystallisation at a molecular level has some strange properties which needs to be modelled and analysed.

‘Blinded by science’ is my current status…

11.01 – Micromechanics is some (understandably) complex shizzle, but needs to studied in high detail to avoid fractures in the brittle plastic material.

11.07 – After using Moldflow to asses the material thickness (what you can get away with before crystallisation problems start occurring), Abaqus is then used to create a model with different material layers (bulk and sheer – or body material and outer coat for idiots like me), with shear layers usually being the thinner and more problematic.

11.10 – Lots of questions about plastics…

11.20 – PRESS BRIEFING! Hold onto your hats folks, after mainlining more coffee we’re about to get some glossy tittle-tattle about where the Simulia line is going.

11.33 – Long term strategy = Simulation as an integrated business practise

This needs to filter down to SMEs, while the ‘Fortune 500’ companies are already using it.

The brand needs to support the user on all levels, actually listening to the customer.

Using the Cloud rather than enterprise solutions to reach the smaller customers – using it themselves rather than ‘leaving it to the experts’.

11.39 – How is simulation fitting in to DS’ plans for multiple vertical industries?

As well as partnering with other specialist developers it is developing its own new angles – CFD for Abaqus for example – but everything needs to sit tightly together.

Certain segments might be packaged for specific industries, but DS wants a full suite available.

11.47 – Some great variations on the pronunciation of the word ‘niche’ today…

11.50 – Everything seems to come back to ‘Bernie’s Vision’.

11.57 – What has to change in the mindset of designers and other customers to get DS’ vision for sim use to happen?

An education on the customer side to see the value and for it to trickle down. Working in traditional ‘silos’ needs to breakdown more – less rigid design role structure.

12.01 – A lot of the fear of using simulation is how it looks (UI) and acts. Getting the simulation into ‘normal’ design tools and reducing the complexity is a big part of what DS is trying to do.

Simulia is working closely with Cosmos on the next generation of SolidWorks simulation.

Enablement mechanisms like communities, YouTube video education and the like are what DS expects is important in pushing the use of simulation. Designers don’t have time for lengthy training courses and need to pick up on the fly.

2.40 – We’re back after an extended lunch break of famous Viennese coffee, famous Viennese cake and famous Viennese miserable cafe staff with a burning question: How do you reverse engineer a contact lens? As if by magic Gary Richardson of Bauch + Lomb is here with the answer.

The products, which will revolutionise contact lenses, will come to market in a couple of years. What is being shown is simply Gary’s hobby project, forming a lens to the form of an eye.

They’re trying to simulate vision and comfort using software.

2.47 – To get the material properties of the lens material, at body temperature they compression test the lens between two flat objects. They reverse engineer this is manual process and build it as a finite element model. The virtual model matches the manual test almost perfectly (this involves Abaqus).

The material is modified using iSight for optimisation to specific sight criteria, and they can get the best product.

This involves a tremendous amount of calculation.

2.59 – Some questions about friction properties go right over our head…

Gary wants to do fluid simulation over the eye as well as the structural simulation of the lens material.

This is product design at a level slightly incomprehensible even for us – effectively its plastics moulding at a super precise level using diamond-cut metal tooling.

3.00 – Time for more cake… When in Austria…

3.40 – It’s time for Rolls Royce’s Roland Parchem to explain how they use Simulia to collaboratively design robust engines.

Using PLM to run the collaborative aspect, the simulation engineers don’t need to hassle the IT department about firewalls, and everything is stable. Usefully Roland has failed to mention which PLM system they use…

4.00 – We snuck out of the Rolls Royce early to grab a word with the CEO of DS’ latest acquisition Simpoe, Alain Dubois.

It’s a solid product that’s been an official partner of DS for years, yet has also been used with the likes of Siemens PLM’s Solid Edge.

The good points are its integration into the SolidWorks UI in its guise as SolidWork’s Plastics Premium (which was pretty much based on it last year). The downside to this is that it costs exactly the same (starting from £5,000), while no longer being available to the aforementioned Solid Edge users wanting a new software for plastics mould simulation.

There’s already an announcement lined up for improvements in SolidWorks 2014, yet we’ll have to wait till autumn to find out what.

5.10 – It’s the final session of the day and we’re all back in the big conference room. The grins of the simulation hardcore users faces is still there but we’re a bit jaded by repeatedly being the dumb kid in the classroom all day (there are some frighteningly clever people here).

Bruce Engelmann, DS CTO is about to tell us where simulation is going within DS.

5.15 – We’re having some manual demos crushing a soda can, while onscreen a virtual model does the same – deliberately it doesn’t quite match up.

The second demonstration 10 plastic cups stacked in a pyramid, which with a cardboard box vortex cannon are blown over.

Again this is mimicked by a virtual simulation, with all the complex physics involved in the vortex.

5.23 — We’re back to the science message of the 3D Experience.

There’s a lot of reach for simulation being used in science (tissue and organ simulation) and nature (predicting and solving forest fires), which no doubt will be big business.

5.28 – Bruce is showing the video of the Google self-driving car, there’s a lot of demand for simulating the amount of technology needed for this car.

Smart products like this are what Simulia is looking to design software solutions for.

5.31 – Theoretically this is all going to work through a shift in product design, where simulation gets involved much earlier in the design process.

Cue a “live” use of DS’s V+R online collaboration tool to Bruce’s co worker Alex in Vegas (bollocks, if that’s a live link I’m an Austrian Baron). In ten years simulation will be a serious part of the design process, so the PLM system will have to adapt.

5.41 – FEA models in the future will have a lot more parts, expect high performance investment to go wild. Good visualisation will be key – comparing thermal imaging to the virtual element tests.

5.44 – Topology and Tosca (what was FE Design aquired a couple of months back) is going to play a big role in future design, edging towards additive manufacturing.

5.50 – Data intensive scientific discovery is a big future trend that DS are targeting. To demonstrate this we’re being shown a thoroughly scripted and clunky video of two DS staff having a discussion about the history of theoretical (virtual) theorems… There’ll be a point to this soon.

Ah… Lots of data (one could say Big Data) and we need new tools to filter through this fourth paradigm.

Effectively, DS wants to use product design technology to solve more data-based problems in different industries, with Simulia marshalling this, with iSight, Abaqus and Tosca forming the basis of this.

6.00 – That’s it, day over. Thanks for popping by, we’ll be back tomorrow with more on Tosca and simulation joy. Time for some cake.

Day Two

8.30 – Welcome back to Vienna! We’re back with the usual introductions and inoffensive musical interludes.

It’s all been about the R&D department’s efforts so far. DS are keen to get across that they’re working on multi-physics.

8.52 – A couple of quick customer stories: Coca-Cola are using Abaqus to simulate how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is getting through the wall structures of its bottles.

Niche stuff.

8.54 – Extending the value of simulation in design, engineering and sciences – remember Bernie wants the world to know DS as a scientific company, not just a bundle of design tools.

8.56 – David Smith, principal design engineer, R&D Ethicon surgical care (a Johnson & Johnson company). The sound of his chewing gum over the microphone is a little unsettling. Note for future speakers: don’t chew and present.

Johnson and Johnson is active in 175 countries and has 128,000 employees in three sectors, cue big image of consumer brands. David is all about medical device design – usually the stuff for invasive surgery.

Video time – ‘giving smiles to kids that don’t have them’ – its all about kids born with a cleft lip, and for an emotional rush it’s set to Coldplay’s Fix You. Sadly Coldplay makes me angry. But the imagery of children’s reconstructive surgery is nice.

9.09 – Modelling stent artery interactions: using Abaqus to study models for flaws and fatigues, weeding out the weak products before physical products are built.

9.12 – Orthopaedics study showing a knee implant, but every problem is affected differently by ligament strengths, muscles etc. Physical models struggle to get everything right, and virtual models still have limitations with things like symmetry (one knee implant one healthy knee, for example, and how balance is affected).

To solve this you need full body forward dynamics – a very powerful tool – which is being allowed through Simulia tools.

9.19 – Simulating spines to test implants. Crickey its complex. Cool stuff.

9.21 – Now David’s speciality: tissue mechanics. Having gone from mechanical engineering, to bio mechanics, to tissue stuff, its super non linear, strangely viscose elastic, and a nightmare to model.

Simulating a workable tissue model, they had an on site Simulia engineer who helped out. With a model built, they used an iSight optimisation oop to help find the right parameters. Still this wasn’t good enough. So Simulia bumped up Abaqus and (in something I don’t really understand) it worked.

Should’ve brushed up on my biology as well as my maths, physics…

9.33 – For its Enseal device it models all aspects of the process of being used, including the clamping down movement, the strain of holding the tissue, turning on the electrode and the zapping of heat going through the flesh.

9.40 – Setting up routine simulation (in this case for designing a harmonic blade) so that the designers who have the expertise aren’t stuck doing the standard stuff. They take a numerical framework and can make any designer have the necessary able to do it, freeing up the more skilled workforce.

9.42 – “Simulation is going to change the future of design at Johnson & Johnson.”

9.50 – Takashi Takiguchi from Honda’s R&D department has tempted us in with the talk titled: The extremely easy external CFD tool for stylists.

Thankfully it’s about car design – not human tissue.

9.53 – The old ways involved a virtual model, building a clay model and bunging it in a wind tunnel. Slow and costly.

Honda created FAST (flow analysis simulation tool), taking exterior geometry, combining components (floor, tyres, assembly), meshing them to get a CFD result in an automated two hour process (I realise this is a bit sketchy, we’ll get more details).

10.29 – Bringing simulation to the designers, through simple (ish) automated processes, allowing them to calculate CFD themselves and to consider aerodynamic performance at a much earlier stage.

Considering suing Takashi under the trade descriptions act – ‘extremely easy’ was misleading.

Much needed coffee time.

10.20 – We’re right down the front of a packed room to hear about F1 tyre development from Pirelli. Massimo Donatellis is on stage to detail how they use Simulia to help simulate tyre shape at 200mph.

The tyres have a complex assembly of structures, thin materials, that need to withstand high downforce – 800kg on a single tyre.

Lower internal pressure to get more track contact leads to sidewall deformation, and bad things.

They use Abaqus throughout the design process, which is pretty standard, but then they need to apply high speed simulation, using Abaqus/Explicit.

10.33 – Lots of graphs.

Quality assurance has to be supremely high, so they have to simulate models for every type of turn, camber and breaking.

10.36 – This even comes down to the tyre’s impact footprint for pressure.

Tyres are used instead of suspension, so they undergo ridiculous changes in weight and stress loads depending on speeds and downforce generated.

11.19 – Another general session now that’s promising to tell us more about the future of Simulia.

Some fear 3D Experience might rear its head again.

Ah, there it is…

11.22 – Eric Weybrant is on stage to tell us about new advancements and updates.

– Edge-to-edge contact (a ball hitting a woven material for example)
– Tube-in-tube contact (wrapping a rope around a tube)
– Something that looks like a penis in a moving gif. Rather awkward moment in the full room.
– Turnaround time sped up
– Fast substructure redesign
– GPU acceleration now works on isometric and material models (massive model being run on 128 CPUs, used to take 30 days compute time, now takes a day)
– Material modelling – more materials need to be modelled (like human tissue etc). – two years ago DS formed a material customer review team. They’ve pointed out the need for modelling more polymers and their characteristics.

11.36 – Ben Yergey is unveiling how material calibration can be determined using iSight. It’s all a bit ‘material science’. Think of it as an integrated data matching/solver solution working off Abaqus.

11.42 – Pointer2 is a speedy optimiser tool for design variables of a material in iSight.

This drops the need for more runs of Abaqus.

11.46 – Eric Weybrant is back, he’s talking about conveyor systems – giant ones used in mining.

– Discreet Element Method – it’s the new way to analyse discontinuous media, like rocks on a giant conveyor belt and pouring off the end, or sorting particles through different sized filters.

11.50 – Jon Dunn is now explaining the ability to model sub assemblies in Abaqus, with multiple instatiations (is that even a word?).

12.03 – It’s a lengthy demo of CAE.

12.04 – Big Eric’s back with multi-physics news – modelling the physics is now critical to product design. New updates include:

– Electronics cooling CFD: steady state solver, heat transfer (solids as well as airflow) and turbulence model enhancements
– Induction heated fusion roller – like printer rolls – modelling motion in EMAG
– Mesh enhancements – for boundary and prism elements

That’s it from the live blog.

It’s been a great event covering all aspects of simulation, and giving us a great idea of how Dassault Systèmes are looking to move simulation to the early stages of the design process and put it into the hands of everyday designers from al industries, as well as its uses in other fields.