Category Archives: Research brief

Sigmetrix launches EZtol: New 1D tolerance stackup analysis software democratizes GD&T

Sigmetrix is an engineering software and services provider with world-leading expertise in GD&T (geometric dimensioning and tolerancing) and mechanical variation. Its flagship product, CETOL 6σ, is tolerance analysis software that gives product development teams the insight required to confidently release designs to manufacturing. Through precise calculation of surface sensitivities, the software identifies those dimensions in a product assembly that are critical to quality. Using advanced mathematical techniques and algorithms, CETOL 6σ accelerates optimization to achieve robust designs ready for manufacturing.

Now Sigmetrix is expanding its software product portfolio with EZtol, a new 1D software solution designed to let designers and engineers quickly understand the impact of part and assembly variation on fit and performance of their product designs. Continue reading

EZtol user interface.

Water pump design: Geometry optimization for a shrouded impeller

For CFD-driven shape optimization of water pumps with shrouded impellers, it’s essential to have an efficient variable-geometry model defined by a set of relevant parameters (design variables). This case-study example focuses on geometry modeling of a typical water pump, with the goal of attaining maximum flexibility in shape variation and fine-tuning.

To begin, the geometry was set up in CAESES (CAE System Empowering Simulation), the software platform from FRIENDSHIP SYSTEMS that helps engineers design optimal flow-exposed products. CAESES provides simulation-ready parametric CAD for complex free-form surfaces, and targets CFD-driven design processes. Its specialized geometry models are ideally suited to automated design exploration and shape optimization. Continue reading

Variation of meridional contours.

Global materials engineering group Wall Colmonoy streamlines casting process with virtual prototyping

With the ability to chain together results from simulating multiple manufacturing processes, and to couple multiple physics domains such as fatigue and thermal properties, virtual performance engineering leader ESI Group observes that virtual prototyping plays an increasingly central role in contemporary state-of-the-art engineering practice. One ESI customer making notable strides in virtual prototyping is Wall Colmonoy, a global materials engineering group with world headquarters in Pontardawe, South Wales.

The company’s European headquarters in Swansea, UK began using ESI’s ProCAST casting simulation software in 2016 to assist in design and manufacture of precision cast components, mostly investment and sand castings. The software aids in rapid prototyping, design and manufacture of precisely engineered castings such as valve seats for oil and gas, valves for homogenizers in the food industry, seaming chucks and rolls for canning industry, neck rings for glass container, and roll end bushes for the steel industry. Continue reading

ESI ProCAST solidification model of investment cast seaming chucks for the canning industry. Source: Wall Colmonoy Ltd.


Frustum Generate topology optimization plus 3D Systems DMP expertise slash weight of GE Aircraft bracket 70%

A perennial engineering challenge is designing a part to meet performance requirements while observing design constraints imposed by manufacturing processes. Conventional subtractive machining offers sharply limited ability to cost-effectively produce complex geometries, especially biomorphic shapes and lattice structures. The result of those manufacturing limitations is often components and products with suboptimal functionality and performance.

But today, with advances in 3D printing and especially direct metal printing (DMP) swiftly making these technologies more and more available and effective, many constraints imposed by traditional manufacturing processes are going away. At the same time, software technologies for multidisciplinary design exploration are emerging to help engineering and manufacturing organizations make the most of these new production processes. In particular, rapid advances in topology optimization technology are helping engineers generate the most efficient designs for single-step manufacture by latest-generation DMP systems. With this combination of new technologies, what the engineer designs is essentially what gets manufactured, with very little of the time- and labor-intensive manufacturing engineering that before now was needed to turn engineering intent into machinable reality.

The business value of this confluence of new technologies was dramatically proven in a recent project by software developer Frustum and 3D Systems’ Quickparts on-demand parts service. The project was part of a public challenge to industry by GE Aircraft to reduce the weight of an aircraft bracket while maintaining the strength needed to meet all of its functional requirements, primarily supporting the weight of the cowling while the engine is in service. Continue reading

Aeroacoustic simulation delivers breakthroughs in aircraft noise reduction

Simulated radiated sound field from a full-scale business jet during landing with flaps and main landing gears deployed. Credit: NASA Langley Research Center

Aircraft manufacturers face increasingly stringent standards for reducing community noise. Conventional aircraft development methods based on engineering experience, past designs and flight testing will not suffice to meet future noise reduction targets. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software based on so-called Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) methods has revolutionized aircraft aerodynamics engineering, but is insufficient for high-fidelity aeroacoustic simulation. However, the Lattice-Boltzmann-based technology of Exa Corporation’s PowerFLOW software provides aeroacoustic simulation accuracy comparable to wind tunnels and flight testing. Today, PowerFLOW’s unique value and benefits for aeroacoustic simulation are being proven in practice by NASA, Embraer and others deploying the software to achieve breakthroughs in aircraft noise prediction and mitigation. Download the white paper to continue reading

Democratizing thermal modeling with a cloud-based simulation app

This test project for high-performance computing (HPC) in the cloud was designed to explore how cloud HPC resources can help to speed up and enable high-performance finite element simulations carried out with COMSOL Multiphysics and COMSOL Server. The objective was to find out how HPC cloud providers can augment engineering organizations’ on-premise hardware to allow for more detailed and faster simulations. Continue reading

The heating/cooling sleeve around the reactor is thin. The image shows surface temperature of the fluid at the end of the heating phase of the thermal cycle (scale colormap). The swirling flow from the bottom right inlet to the upper left outlet is clearly visible. Source: ForCES and UberCloud

SmartUQ: Uncertainty Quantification for more realistic engineering and systems analysis

SmartUQ is a software tool for uncertainty quantification (UQ) and engineering analytics that heightens fidelity of engineering and systems analysis by taking account of real-world variability and probabilistic behavior.

UQ is the science of quantifying, characterizing, tracing and managing uncertainty in both computational and real-world systems. UQ seeks to address the problems associated with incorporating real-world variability and probabilistic behavior into engineering and systems analysis. Nominal—that is, idealized—as opposed to real-world simulations and tests answer the question: What will happen when the system is subjected to a single set of inputs? UQ moves this question into the real world by asking: What is likely to happen when the system is subjected to a range of uncertain and variable inputs? Continue reading

Sources of uncertainty. Source: SmartUQ

Simulation Is Becoming Democratized—At Last (Part 3)

This third and final installment in this series focuses on a revolutionary new generation of fit-for-purpose, product-specific and often user-organization-specific simulation “apps.” By placing advanced simulation and analysis technologies “under the hood” from the user’s perspective, simulation apps are making unprecedented powers of automated design exploration, optimization, synthesis and validation accessible, usable and safe for non-analyst engineers and designers across a wide and still growing range of products and industries.

Automating the setup and execution of simulation and analysis problems has been a goal of both practitioners and software vendors almost since the beginning of the CAE industry. Early approaches relied heavily on scripting and custom programming. Repetitive, routine processes could be captured and reused in macro languages provided by CAE software vendors as adjuncts to their solvers and pre/post-processors. Continue reading

EASA technology architecture. Source: EASA

Hazards of technology prophecy: Failures of imagination, failures of nerve

In his classic essay collection Profiles of the Future, Arthur C. Clarke identified two kinds of what he termed “hazards of prophecy”: failures of imagination, and failures of nerve. Today, nearly a fifth of the way into the twenty-first century, it’s striking how many engineering organizations—and how many technology analyst firms seeking to advise them—seem to suffer from both maladies. Far too many have failed to escape from, and evolve beyond, business models and modes of thinking created to serve the needs and opportunities of the 1970s, or even before.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Systems 2020 is one of many carrot-and-stick initiatives launched by various stakeholders to coax manufacturers out of practices and habits rooted in, essentially, 1950s-era product architectures and their engineering requirements. Today’s and tomorrow’s smart, connected, self-aware and situationally aware products, managed by ultra-sophisticated onboard mechatronic systems of systems, differ from earlier-generation mechanical devices governed by primitive electromechanical (if that) control systems almost as much as relativity and quantum mechanics departed from the classical physics of Newton and Maxwell.

So too the commentariat

In like manner, technology analyst firms today divide sharply in two: those that exercise engineering-grade care to anchor their practice in the bedrock of sustained, diligent, discerning research into engineers’ firsthand experiences with the technologies under investigation, versus the many content to be little more than elaborate echo chambers for technology vendors’ marketing communications.


It would be comic, if it wasn’t sad, watching the second group position its work product as research, analysis, “strategy” or even “thought leadership.” When reality is, given their scant interaction with users, such firms essentially publish reports that parrot back to their vendor clients what they just heard the vendors tell them.

That’s not research, much less analysis. It’s not even journalism.

Small wonder it takes an army of salespeople to badger, beat and drive clients into that hall of mirrors and house of cards. Julia Child’s memorable word for purveyors of such flimflam was the “flimsies.” Continue reading

Simulation Is Becoming Democratized—At Last (Part 2)

Two decades after software vendors’ first efforts to put simulation and analysis capabilities in the hands of non-analyst engineers and designers, a wealth of new technological avenues have opened up to finally make this a practical reality.

Part 1 of this series looked at how contemporary connections between CAD and CAE software environments have grown more sophisticated and intelligent than the industry’s early attempts. Now, we look at two more trends acting to democratize simulation:

  • Meshless structural analysis and other recent technological advances that simplify and accelerate the traditionally time- and labor-intensive tasks of analysis model creation and problem setup.
  • The cloud-based high-performance computing (HPC) revolution, driven by a wave of visionary young organizations and initiatives working to make cloud HPC-based simulation resources easily and affordably available to engineering organizations of all sizes. Continue reading
SIMSOLID large-assembly design study of 1,128-part assembly. Source: Serapid, SIMSOLID