One of the critical aspects of developing a component design is to ensure it will actually perform in real life situations.
That’s a very difficult thing to do by hand, but thanks to simulation software, it is far more easily done. But that doesn’t mean it’s a simple task; the computations are incredibly complicated, and you’ll need some sophisticated tools to check out your design.
Simulation software will analyze your design in a number of different dimensions, depending on the software. You might, for example, be interested in a thermal analysis, or seeing how fluid flows through your component, or perhaps a mechanical stress analysis. Or all of the above.
Knowing how these external conditions affect a part’s performance allows you to tweak the design to perform more optimally, or perhaps reduce the amount of material while still maintaining desired performance. In other words, this is an important step.
However, the simulation software tends to be quite expensive, both in terms of the software cost itself, as well as the hardware required to execute the simulation. This has led several makers of such software to provide new cloud-based systems that sidestep the hardware problem for clients. Oh, and it also enables them to move to a subscription-based business model that is likely more profitable, too.
Generally, you’re going to have to pay one way or another to use simulation software. But there is at least one good option for readers who are on a budget. SimScale, makers of engineering simulation services, offer three levels of participation in their cloud environment: Enterprise, Professional and Community.
It’s the Community service that piques my interest, as it is completely free of charge (and you don’t even need to present a credit card to sign up).
The Community level provides access to “All features”, which includes computational fluid dynamics, finite element analysis, thermal simulation:
- Incompressible and Compressible Flow
- Laminar and turbulent flow
- Mass and Thermal Transport
- Multiphase Flow
- Advanced Fluid Modeling
- Fluid - Solid Body Interaction
- Static Analysis
- Dynamic Analysis
- Modal Analysis
- Multibody Dynamics and Contact Constraints
- Material Models
- Thermal - Structural Analysis
- Heat Transfer
And much more. And all of this executes in your browser and does not require anything much in the way of extra hardware.
What’s the catch with the Community service level? There are two. First, you have a limit of 3,000 hours of compute time. For casual projects, that’s probably sufficient.
The second catch is that your cloud-based projects will be publicly displayed and not private. For private storage, which turns out to be exceptionally secure, you will require a paid plan with SimScale.
For those designing components, this might be worth a look. It’s certainly worth the price.