What’s Stopping the Widespread Adoption of Simulation Software?

Mickey Wakefield July 27, 2021 2 min read

Simulation is one of the most important steps of bringing a functional machine to life, so why isn’t simulation software used more often in industry? In this blog post, we explore the benefits of simulation software.

engineer-using-simulation-software

Conducting mathematical simulation of engineering problems is one of the least common of all activities performed in the engineering departments of mid-sized companies. Sure, there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, simulations in machine design are done only “in the real,” resulting in long development times, failed prototypes, and product returns. It’s one thing to return a pair of shoes that don’t fit but quite another to have to retrofit a paper-processing machine. If simulation software is so profitable, why is it barely used in the industry? Let’s unpack a few reasons why simulation software is necessary in today’s engineering landscape.

Simulation Software is Affordable

Companies like Autodesk hear the same justifications time and again from companies that aren’t tkaing advantage of silumation software; it’s too expensive, it’s too complicated, and the methods are too unreliable to be used in the competitive arena of machine design. Objectively, none of these things are true. Today, Fusion 360 features a full suite of simulation tools for an affordable price. While Fusion 360 is a remarkably cost-effective solution, even its competitors offer reasonable prices when compared to the packages of the 2010s.

It’s Thorough

In the last 20 years, the simulation interfaces notorious for their unattractive optics have been polished to the degree one expects of a CAD system. As for accuracy, no one who has flown in a commercial airliner since the days of the Boeing 707 can claim the process doesn’t work. When used properly, the results are better than prototypes, and there is no shortage of engineers young and (by now) old with experience using these tools.

It Has History

Consider this: finite element simulation is the oldest computer technology in existence! Surprised? Some know that the first modern computer was the ENIAC. Others say PERL. Much is made of the enormous size of these machines and their need for constant maintenance, but what we rarely discuss is their use case (hint: it wasn’t for running TradeWars). Engineers used those early computers nearly exclusively for finite element calculation problems, the oldest kind of computing there is. A company that felt the need to buy such a machine could expect to pay millions for it, though. Of course, such an expensive machine could not be run by a neophyte, which brings us to our next point.

It’s Accessible

Due to poor interfaces and high cost, people appointed to run calculations usually had a title like Dr. or Professor. Though the cost of a machine capable of such calculations has since declined, our association of the method with uncommon numerical skill has remained. At this point, though, this barrier to entry is just perceived. Today, anyone who has a laptop and an understanding of engineering can use simulation to help reduce development time. Like poker, learning the game doesn’t take long, but mastery takes a lifetime. Fusion 360 gives you many options to begin your simulation journey all from within the design and manufacturing tool you already use. What are you waiting for? Get started today.

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