Why is Simulation Software Important in the Design Process?

Sam Sattel January 27, 2021 2 min read
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Creating a great design is the ultimate goal of any product team, but how do we get there? Teams typically excel at crafting theoretical designs — throwing budgetary caution to the wind while flexing creative muscle. While this approach births marvelous concepts, these often lack practicality. Simulation software helps us find that perfect marriage of form and function.

Exposing developing products to multiple scenarios and assessing outcomes shows us the viability of a mass-market design. Thankfully, digital software streamlines the simulation process. Digital simulation is also cost-effective, thus deserving serious consideration as a mainstay within the design process. 

Ensuring Durability and Sustained Performance

Your products aren’t just for show — they’re for getting things done. Teams must ensure that products can tolerate rigorous use under applicable conditions. Exceptional simulation software includes some combination of the following: 

Some products encounter environmental stressors (like Somni Solution’s fiber optic sensors), while others contend with internal degradation. We can tailor our simulations accordingly by tweaking testing parameters. Say we’re creating a propane tank, which may be exposed to seasonal temperature swings — in addition to rain, snow, UV radiation, and even salt air. These natural forces contribute heavily to external corrosion. Propane itself gradually contributes to internal corrosion as well. Simulations let us test different finishes, materials, and construction methods against the elements, as products such as these must be dependable.

Optimizing Complex Products

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The same rules apply to items with electronic or mechanical mechanisms. Moving parts introduce design complexity, and companies must manufacture these components with tight tolerances. Designing with minimal defects ensures proper fitment, which can be verified over hundreds of test simulations. Fluidity in these applications is crucial — consider joints in the human body, where excess friction is the enemy. 

We can run a batch of simulations to assess key structural points (mechanical arms, drives, etc.) and build stress mappings using software with simulation features, such as Fusion 360. These will illuminate the strengths and weaknesses of any design. Resilience allows a product to operate as designed repeatedly, avoiding unintended consequences such as deformation and breakdown. Simulation software also facilitates the following:

Our chief goal is to create products that function well. The question soon becomes: Does our product last as advertised, and are potential improvements cost-effective to implement? Simulation software can lead us to answers. Some changes may be minor, while others are more transformative. Altering and testing these design elements becomes lightning fast with the right tool. 

Simulation Software Cost Savings and Efficiency

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The design processes of yesteryear leaned on physical prototyping. Teams would create iterative designs and manufacture them, then subject these prototypes to rigorous manual testing. Depending on the size of a product lineup, concurrent prototyping could incur quite a production cost. These methods also required more time and resources. 

Simulation software is relatively affordable — rapidly paying for itself in saved material costs and efficiency. While it might’ve taken a team weeks to bring a product to market previously, you can now accomplish that milestone in mere days. Wouldn’t you want to establish a foothold first by beating your competitors? That head start could be supremely profitable. 

It’s easy to make iterative and generative design changes after consulting analytics in Fusion 360. Simulations give teams a clear path forward, freeing them up to pursue other innovative projects. 

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