As markets mature and players consolidate into larger entities, the way that products are built transitions from a more integrated approach – “let’s do it all” – to something more targeted – “let’s focus on our core added value”. This is particularly visible in large manufacturing industries such as automotive or aeronautics, where the component manufacturers who feed the supply chain produce virtually all the components of cars and aircraft. Let’s take a look at how Component-Based development for CAE can benefit the entire industry.
Within the software and hardware businesses, the examples of Intel processors and Microsoft operating systems that power most of today’s computers demonstrates how important it is for manufacturers such as Dell, Lenovo, and HP to be able to rely on solid strategic partnerships that free resources to focus on adding their specific know-how to their products.
Specialized software components enhance engineering applications
The smaller world of engineering software is no exception: the days when vendors developed everything from visualization to linear solvers in addition to their own value-added technologies are long gone. Creating applications using components has become the norm. Examining the standard simulation workflow more closely, there are a variety of technologies that can be handled through highly specialized and efficient Component-Based development kits for CAE.
Technologies that can benefit from using software components
For the purposes of simulation setup, third-party components are best for importing CAD from various native formats, handling the tedious task of repairing tessellations, and reliably generating suitable 2D and 3D meshes.
At the core of a simulation package, solvers can also leverage efficient frameworks to implement physical modelling and, more importantly, to assemble and solve the resulting linear algebra problems.
Finally, when the results are available, providing post-processing and reporting tools to end users requires specialized skills that are often best addressed by a focused component developer.
Throughout this workflow, even supporting technologies such as visualization, interoperability and automation are often too far from the core know-how mastered by CAE Component-Based development teams and are, therefore, more efficiently covered by third-party contributions.
Choosing to keep any of these technologies in-house or rely on external software development kits (SDKs) is a matter of balancing the pros and cons; in other words, to evaluate the return on investment of this “buy or build” decision. The following criteria seem relevant when considering these options:
- Time-to-market: integrating external IP into a product is the fastest way to add value, compared to creating a technology from scratch or refactoring outdated code.
- Cost of features: large engineering development kits are the result of development teams working for years on market-driven innovation and hardening. Acquiring proven, off-the-shelf feature sets is cost-effective, both in terms of development and maintenance – all the more so considering the high complexity of the supporting technologies involved in the CAE workflow.
- Cost of integration: despite its higher cost, in-house development has important advantages, such as avoiding the burden of learning and integrating alien code, independence from providers’ release schedules, and producing fully customized functionality.
With a CAE marketplace that has consolidated over the past 15 to 20 years, CAE software components have unsurprisingly become increasingly popular and critical for established independent software vendors (ISVs), budding start-ups, and enterprise Component-Based development teams. Over time, Tech Soft 3D, known for
its HOOPS SDK suite focused on 3D data access, visualization and reporting, , has been more successful than many other providers.
Tech Soft 3D’s strategic vision to play a larger role as a Tier 1 component provider was reinforced last year by its acquisitions of Visual Kinematics and Ceetron AS, both developers of specialized CAE components. The result for the CAE market is the creation of a unique partner offering a comprehensive portfolio of SDKs covering all standard simulation workflow technologies and a promise of extended functionality as these toolkits begin to work together.
The entry point for all CAD geometries is HOOPS Exchange, the fastest and most accurate CAD data translation toolkit on the market. It provides access to over 30 native CAD formats and offers multiple capabilities to produce quality tessellations.
Reading simulation geometry from CAD files simplifies the CAE workflow
When input geometries are only available in tessellated format (STL files), the Polygonica SDK technology repairs these discrete surfaces to produce compliant connectivity for FEM purposes:
watertight, fold-free and manifold. In addition, Polygonica offers defeaturing to eliminate details irrelevant to solving and a wide range of mesh modelling features, including Boolean operations.
Robust 2D and 3D meshing is key to a successful CAE simulation application
Once you have bridged the gap from CAD to a clean mesh, Tech Soft 3D’s Visual Kinematics mesh SDK provides fail-free mesh generation and adaptation to produce surface or volume meshes suitable for FEM solving. Covering the most popular element types and offering a wide range of control options, the toolkit integrates smoothly and robustly into any CAE pre-processing application.
At the core of the workflow, Tech Soft 3D offers a Visual Kinematics framework for building FEM models that simplifies the work of implementing the physical modeling of a simulation. In addition, it also assembles and solves the resulting linear algebra problems, using state-of-the-art high-performance algorithms for shared memory architectures.
Advanced post-processing tools are required to fully exploit CAE simulations
Ceetron components for processing and visualizing CAE results complete Tech Soft 3D’s portfolio of CAE SDKs. Available for both desktop and browser-based web applications, these SDKs feature market-driven functionality created by experienced specialists and offer high performance and ease of use to developers through their intuitive programming interfaces (API). A set of Python modules also allows you to automate result processing to improve engineering workflows.
Finally, CAE applications often need to remain open to the global simulation environment, both when importing data from other applications and when exporting results to other file formats. This is the added value brought by Tech Soft 3D’s Visual Kinematics interoperability SDK, a unique vendor-independent toolkit that provides up-to-date access to input decks and results from over 30 industry-standard CAE applications, while allowing files to be written in more than 10 different formats.
It is difficult to predict where the CAE market will go. Emerging technologies such as process or geometry optimization using machine learning or artificial intelligence-based solving seem to be good candidates, but experience shows that market adoption is ultimately based on performance and requirements: while artificial reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR)/extended reality (XR) are already available, their widespread use is still in the making; the adoption of remote CAE is slowly increasing years after first becoming available – and the pandemic has also played a part here; previously, parallel computing also faced market inertia for years.
Whatever the future holds, creating specialized, high added-value CAE applications will not happen without component suppliers like Tech Soft 3D working behind the scenes to fuel innovation.
Tech Soft 3D is a leading global provider of development tools that help software teams deliver successful 3D engineering applications. Founded in 1996 and headquartered in Bend, Oregon, Tech Soft 3D also has offices in California, France, England, Japan, and Norway. The company’s toolkit products power more than 500 unique applications running on hundreds of millions of computers worldwide. For more details, visit: https://www.techsoft3d.com/markets/cae/
For more information: email Andres Rodriguez-Villa of Tech Soft 3D at firstname.lastname@example.org