Simulation technology has come a long way since its inception, and even today it is constantly evolving.
As a startup, you have the opportunity to choose simulation software, while conversely an established company might find it expensive to make changes to their software stack. Hence, it’s important that you are aware of emerging trends so you can make an informed choice. Remember, as a startup you cannot afford to make the wrong choice since you have limited resources. The technology you select today should be able to withstand the test of time, as you’ll be in the market for many years to come.
Simulations, as you may know, help engineers design various iterations of a product and then subject selected designs to different operational conditions. This helps them identify how the product will perform in the real world, so there are no surprises once the product is released in the market. Simulation helps companies innovate and test their ideas more quickly than using physical prototypes.
If you were working on a simple B2C project, you could use something much simpler. However, complex products often require complex technological solutions. An example of a company that provides robust solutions for startups is ANSYS; take a look at their Startup Program designed specifically to make simulation affordable for startups.
Let’s take a look at the top trends that have emerged in the field of engineering simulation software:
1.- Simulation is becoming more and more popular.
In the past, simulation was primarily used as a forensic tool, late in the development cycle, to gain an understanding of why something didn’t work. Because most design efficiencies are locked in early in the process, companies were often constrained in the fixes they could make. For example, they might have to try to redesign one component, but without changing all of the adjacent components in the system, thus triggering retooling and inventory concerns. The most innovative companies are now using the approach of a complete virtual prototype using simulation. You can go through thousands of iterations in the time that you might devote to one physical prototype.
For startups in particular, simulation helps save money and resources, develop prototypes faster and show customers and investors that your product actually works in the real world.
2.- Simulation of large and complex systems.
With more technological advances, consumers have also come to expect more complex systems and flawless performance from their devices. A Formula One car, for instance, requires 80,000 components.
Similarly, your product will likely have a lot of components as well, and you cannot afford to release a buggy MVP. Today, there is more pressure than ever on engineers to ensure that all the moving parts of a product function properly.
The good news is that along with the increasing complexity of products, simulation technology has advanced considerably as well. Simulation software can help engineers quickly figure out how physical forces will impact the performance of the product. Simulation helps them see how the product will perform in the real world, thus reducing the chances of failure.
Simulation technology has also made development cycles shorter by helping engineers recognize flaws in the product at the beginning rather than the end of the development. Another advantage of simulation today is that startups can innovate at a faster rate and keep up with the dynamic demands of the market. This helps them stay ahead of their competition.
3.- Affordable to startups.
Traditionally, companies did not just need training and expertise to use simulation software, they also needed to have high performance computing capabilities in order to process complex simulations. Today, simulation companies have made use of graphics cards so that large simulation data can be processed on the right kind of laptop or PC.
What’s more, vendors now offer cloud services on a pay-as-you-go basis so that companies do not have to invest in expensive HPC architecture. The platform is hosted on the cloud, thus reducing the barriers to entry for startups. For instance, ANSYS has partnered with Rescale to offer a cost-effective solution that can be run on a browser, without any complex installs or the need for high-power computing. Startups can even run this program on their laptop.
4.- Use of high performance computing.
Another emerging trend is the use of high-performance computing to process numerically large simulations. These solutions help distribute simulation tasks across different clusters and cores.
It has become easier for engineers to swap their designs for potential weaknesses, thanks to these high-speed clusters and availability of cloud computing. Companies can now develop prototypes faster and process complex simulations better.
5.- Accessible to experts as well as non-experts.
When designing a product, there is room for technical experts as well as novices. Teaching everyone on the team every aspect of a software platform is not possible or feasible. Today’s simulation technology provides interfaces that can be easily used by experts as well as non-experts.
Even if advanced users create standard workflows, other team members simply have to apply them. This means even non-experts on the team can be involved in the product development process.
This is also known as appification. Appification is a process where experts or advanced users of simulation software can develop simple interfaces that require little training to build specific components. Those looking to build that component only need to know how to perform simulation for that particular component, and do not need to learn the specifics of how the simulation software works on the whole. This purpose-based simulation makes it easier for teams to design products.
6.- All-purpose multi physics platforms.
CAE (Computer-Aided Engineering) vendors are now expanding to include all-purpose multi-physics platforms that have greater capabilities.
While this does not have much of an effect to engineers who are getting high quality results with simple interfaces, it could be beneficial for those looking for general purpose tools. If you’re looking for a comprehensive solution for your simulation needs, ANSYS has an excellent program for startups that provides a number of solutions in one package.
All-purpose multi physics platforms evolved as a number of vendors that started off in one branch of multi physics have now merged or taken over companies that utilize other branches.