MSC Software Touts New `Thinks Like an Engineer’ Tool

MSC Apex Generative Design 2020 allows engineers to explore and optimize designs in a single step to accelerate innovation.

MSC Apex Generative Design 2020 allows engineers to explore and optimize designs in a single step to accelerate innovation.

MSC Apex Generative Design 2020 now supports the usability and productivity benefits of the underlying MSC Apex platform. Image Courtesy of MSC Software


While generative design tools have pushed conceptual designs to entirely new levels, MSC Software has released its next-generation offering it claims “thinks like an engineer” to narrow the field of choices to a feasible design that not only meets all design objectives, but is also manufacturable.

The latest version of MSC Apex Generative Design is intended to serve as a “co-pilot” to engineers, providing fast, feasible, and useful input to zero in on the handful of ideas that are engineering-ready and can be produced via 3D printing. In comparison, the generative design tools hailing from the CAD world deliver plenty of design ideas, but skip over using simulation to ensure options perform as required, according to Dr. Thomas Reiher, director, generative design at MSC Software.

“The problem we identified is that by only addressing part of the problem, engineers have come to expect many design ideas from tools where what they need are feasible designs that meet all of their criteria,” Reiher says. “We maintain it’s important to support engineers in their daily work by giving them a solution for the whole workflow and not just one aspect.”

Consider the workflow when trying to lightweight an aerospace bracket, for example. An engineer would import an existing part, define optimization goals, and with a few clicks, come up with a model that is automatically verified for simulation. In addition, a feasible geometry is generated within the same tool, without the need for manual rework, and the resulting designs can be input directly into MSC Software manufacturing simulation tools and then to MSC Nastran for verification to complete the workflow.

“Our goal is to streamline this process further by coupling more simulations within our CAE platform so that engineers can design `from screen to machine’ enabling innovation engineered for manufacturing in a single high-productivity environment,” Reiher says.

First announced in November 2019, the latest 2020 MSC Apex Generative Design version now supports the usability and productivity benefits of the underlying MSC Apex platform. Offsets for interface regions such as sleeves for bolts as non-design spaces are done with a few clicks, and the application of loads and displacement constraints are conducted almost on the fly. In addition, the new release includes a NURBS functionality, which makes it possible to transfer generated mesh directly to CAD formats so the results can be used within common engineering and manufacturing workflows. Generative design tools like MSC’s Apex version are intended to shrink the iterative process of eliminating unsuitable design candidates, helping to accelerate design cycles and letting engineers focus on optimizing pre-vetted, manufacturing-ready options.

“In every iteration, for every element, the stresses are calculated so it’s based entirely on mechanical principles and leverages the power of evolution, which is superior to a single derived design,” Reiher says. “The only way generative design can deliver what engineers need is by combining conceptual design, engineering, and validation in one process.”

To learn more about MSC Apex Generative Design, check out this video.

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Beth Stackpole's avatar
Beth Stackpole

Beth Stackpole is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to [email protected].

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