The True Power of Simulation

Accurate simulation software boosts productivity for the design of electrical, mechanical, fluid and chemical applications.

Accurate simulation software boosts productivity for the design of electrical, mechanical, fluid and chemical applications.

Bernt NilssonWhen we launched the first version of our multiphysics (MP) simulation software, we knew it would fill a void in the CAE market that historically had been limited to single-physics codes only. Fueled by the ingenuity of its early users, the software was applied to solve just about any design challenge that involved coupled physics effects. While addressing the need for coupling physics affecting the same application, it became clear that MP modeling was a vital component for delivering a unified simulation platform.

Today, COMSOL Multiphysics has become an integral tool throughout the product development process. It encompasses a wide range of applications, including electrical, mechanical, fluid and chemical simulations. Companies who have adopted this simulation power are designing new products in less time and with lower costs than ever before. It all comes down to the ability to build accurate simulation models.

Accurate Model Characteristics

To start, the model needs to replicate the characteristics of a design by including all relevant physics. In addition, the contributing physical effects need to be coupled the same way as they are in nature. This is accomplished by solving a tightly integrated system of physics, each governed by the laws of nature, in one and the same simulation. The objective is to find a self-consistent solution that satisfies all physics. This is the MP approach that enables reliable simulation results.

Using accurate models from the very start of product development is the key to increased productivity. This was a recurring theme at the 2012 COMSOL Conferences held this past fall. More than 2,000 researchers and product designers gathered to present and discuss the groundbreaking MP advances in their workflow. Presentations by leaders in mathematical modeling and simulation spanned a variety of industries, such as automotive, life sciences, energy, consumer electronics, and many more.

Case in Point

Where does MP fit in the product design workflow? A great example can be found throughout the conceptual phase of design, where new ideas are explored. Making the right design decision at this stage is crucial in bringing the right product to market on time and within budget. Any simplifications applied during the early design phase, such as considering single physics only, risks jeopardizing the project down the road—with expensive change requests and even product recalls.

Here is where the adaptability of MP simulation makes a big difference. It supports the designer by building realistic models that include all relevant physical effects influencing the product. These simulation results can be used to gain understanding of the combined effects, and to drive key design decisions.

Design optimization is another area in which COMSOL users are reporting excellent results. With a true representation of the real-world product, the case is made for running large-scale optimizations. Today, the MP community enjoys a solid infrastructure of tools to get the job done. For example, seamless integration of CAD modeling with simulation streamlines the iterations in optimization of design. For cases where the simulation requires more computational power than what is available on the premises, users are turning to the cloud. Loads of RAM, high-end hardware, and cluster computing are offered through Amazon s Elastic Compute Cloud.

Verification and testing are other areas where productivity gains have been significant. A proven, reliable model simplifies the verification of design ideas and product alterations. In addition, MP simulation reduces the need for costly and time-consuming testing of physical prototypes. Reports from the COMSOL Conference indicate simulation results are accurate to such a high degree that, in many areas, physical testing can be significantly reduced.

MP simulation simply offers too great of a competitive advantage to be overlooked. Companies from a broad range of industries are successfully adopting these tools for conceptual design, optimization, testing and verification. Without a doubt, MP modeling is driving innovation and productivity gains to new levels. That is the true power of simulation. DE

With more than 20 years of experience from promoting analysis and simulation software, Bernt Nilsson is the senior vice president of marketing of COMSOL Inc., Burlington, MA. Send e-mail about this article to [email protected].

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