Additive manufacturing, often referred to as 3D printing, is a computer-controlled process for creating 3D objects.
Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is a science that uses data structures to solve issues of fluid flow -- like velocity, density, and chemical compositions.
IN THIS ARTICLE:
- What is Finite Element Analysis
- Principles of FEA
- A General Process in FEA
- Type of Finite Element Method
- Application of FEA in CAD
- Why FEA is Useful
- The Bottom Line
Engineers have the unenviable position of being held entirely responsible for the integrity and safety of all the products and structures they design. Small mistakes in design often lead to imminent disasters (that frequently go to court and get litigated).
This is why products and structures go through an array of stress testing and optimization before being deployed in the real world. But doing so over hundreds of iterations (and to scale) can be prohibitively expensive. So engineers often look to simulation modeling techniques (like Finite Element Analysis) to automate and simplify this testing.
This helps to reduce the use of materials for iterative prototyping, which would otherwise be used in actualization.
Finite element analysis is one of the most common techniques used by engineers and CAD designers to simulate “stress” on their designs.
As manufacturers begin to rely more and more on additive manufacturing (AM), moving from a few select piece parts that are 3D printed, to hundreds of assemblies in complex systems, a cohesive methodology is needed to manage this transition and associated workflows. Companies have tried to deal with these complexities and challenges with point and home-grown solutions, trying to adapt legacy systems to the new reality.
To the uninitiated, 3D printing may seem a simple process — download your CAD file and hit print. But the world of additive manufacturing is more complex. A manufacturer will have to contend with a range of data formats of varying quality (especially if a manufacturer is having to deal with multiple subcontractors for an assembly). This data needs to be correctly translated, made watertight, and made manufacturable — all while retaining design intent. Then a manufacturer needs to combine as many parts as possible to minimize both print time as well as wasted material.
It is a competitive world out there, and additive manufacturing (AM) OEMs face pressures like all manufacturers do when it comes to differentiating their products from their competitors.
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3D visualization is the process of using 3D visuals to analyze designs or scenarios.
3D visualization -- interchangeably used with 3D modeling, 3D graphics, 3D rendering and computer-generated imaging (CGI) -- is basically the use of 3D images to analyze designs.
Following the design and analysis phase, computer aided design (CAD) files are usually converted into polyhedra file formats for preparation and manufacturing in 3D printers. STL (STereoLithography or Standard Tessellation Language) is the most common polyhedra file format, having originally been developed to translate CAD files into a readable format for 3D printers in 1987.
Since launching in 1995, SolidWorks has emerged as a widely adopted computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided engineering (CAE) suite. In fact, as of March 2016 SolidWorks had captured 32% of the CAD market, making it the leading CAD suite in use.