Gain early insights with engineering simulation software

With engineering simulation tools, developers in architecture, construction, product design, and manufacturing save time and money by evaluating functionality, performance, and durability before moving into physical testing.

Computer rendering of an engineering simulation

Engineering simulations enable testing and validation while products and systems are still in the design phase.

What is engineering simulation?

Engineering simulation uses advanced software to visualize, analyze, and predict the result of processes and the behavior of 3D product designs while those products and systems are still in development. The insights gained from engineering simulations help stakeholders make critical product design decisions in the digital phase, before moving to physical testing and prototyping—saving money, encouraging innovation, and accelerating time-to-market.

Computational fluid dynamics rendering of a factory layout

Engineering simulations can include computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling to predict air flow in designed spaces before they are built. Image courtesy of Vimek.

Predict outcomes with simulation-based engineering

Many of the largest and most established industries in the world use simulation-based engineering to begin testing, validating, and predicting outcomes in the digital space well before entering the realm of physical testing and prototypes. These industries include automotive, aerospace, energy, electronics, construction, medical devices, chemicals and process manufacturingcivil and environmental engineering, and much more.

Engineering simulation can be used to analyze aerodynamics, vehicle handling, crash tests, and fuel efficiency in the automotive and aerospace industries; to test the structural stability of bridges, dams, and buildings before construction; to simulate chemical reactor and power plant heat transfer or analyze chemical reactions and electrical grid behavior; to simulate electromagnetic interference and semiconductor behavior in electronics; to simulate surgical procedures and medical device behavior; to simulate optimized waste treatment, material mixing, and construction processes; and so on.

Examples of simulation engineering are virtually limitless and apply to businesses of any size making products, structures, or systems based on 3D CAD models, not just to large industries and behemoth companies. Regardless of the product, engineering simulation software such as Autodesk CFD, Autodesk FusionMoldflow, FlexSim, and others can play an important role in several stages of production to simulate performance and behaviors, identify and fix problems, and accelerate time-to-market significantly.

In the early stages of product development, simulation lets engineers rapidly access dozens of different design choices for functionality, performance, and durability. Before physical prototyping, simulation can save time and resources by testing virtual prototypes under countless conditions. Simulating manufacturing processes before production can also assess production methods and processes instead of learning through trial and error on physical machines. Engineering simulation can create efficiencies in quality assurance and maintenance by predicting and preventing potential errors in the product and by simulating the wear and tear of extreme conditions, predicting maintenance needs before they arise.

Benefits of engineering simulations

Simulating product testing in the digital rather than the physical realm produces many tangible benefits, including:

Faster time to market

With engineering simulation software, engineers can quickly analyze the performance of iterative design elements under various conditions to narrow down a short list of best options—all while in the digital space, significantly shortening time to market.


Less or no prototyping

The ability to test and validate product performance as 3D CAD models in engineering simulation software can greatly reduce or even eliminate the need for physical prototypes. If physical prototypes are necessary, the process tends to be more efficient after going through rounds of simulation first.


Better product performance

By virtualizing simulation within software, engineers can test more features and variations faster and more often than they could using physical prototypes. That allows them to detect and fix problems earlier in the design cycle, which has a positive impact on quality and performance.


Lower engineering costs

Maximizing the use of engineering simulation software reduces physical prototyping, shortens design cycles, detects engineering flaws earlier, and provides a central platform for collaboration—all of which heighten engineering’s efficiency and lower costs.


Product cost reduction

Because engineering simulation software can drastically reduce R&D costs and shorten design cycles, businesses can choose to pass some of those savings on to the cost of the product. Simulation software can also help find efficiencies in the materials used and the manufacturing process, leading to further product savings.


Autodesk software for engineering simulations

Computational fluid dynamics simulation and solid body motion analysis software. Available as CFD Premium and CFD Ultimate

Cloud-based 3D CAD / CAM / CAE / PCB software for product design.

Simulation and design tools for plastic injection and compression molding.

Simulation engineering customer stories

Low angle rendering of a concept car


Automotive art and engineering meet in VR

This revered Italian design studio may have gained inspiration from the natural world for its speedy Battista electric supercar, but visual simulations in the virtual world using Autodesk VRED sped up the design process significantly.


Two flight controller enclosures


Aerospace engineering simulation

To smooth the meticulous workflow of making aviation electronics enclosures that manage flight control, power, and safety systems, S-PLANE Automation conducted multiple simulations early in the design process using Autodesk CFD and Autodesk Inventor software. The company lowered costs by reducing physical testing and prototyping while increasing collaboration and customer satisfaction.


Image courtesy of S-PLANE Automation

Simulation of the flow of plastic into a mold


Injecting simulation into plastic molds

This specialist in plastic injection molded parts trusted the Autodesk Fusion Simulation Extension to simulate and analyze the flow of plastics into a mold. As a result, the company lowered its amount of trial injections by 25% and improved the quality and accuracy of its mold designs for the automotive and other industries.


Image courtesy of Kawai Plastic Industry

Simulation engineering resources

Get an overview of what simulation software can do to increase productivity, make better products, and provide opportunities for insight and innovation in product design and manufacturing.


Take this professional Autodesk Fusion skill-building course and learn how to test, validate, and modify a design with simulation before making a physical prototype.


Autonomous vehicles are like real-time simulation machines that use AI and simulation to predict traffic patterns, avoid crashes, and ultimately become better drivers than humans.


Find out how Autodesk’s finite element analysis (FEA) software simulates the effect of multiple real-world forces—like mechanical stress and vibration, motion, heat transfer, fluid flow, and others—on a product while it’s still in the 3D model phase. Then try the solutions for free.


Learn how Autodesk CFD predicts the behavior of liquid, gas, and air systems with computational fluid dynamics simulations. Gain motion, thermal, and other insights that can improve energy efficiency, reduce risk, and optimize cooling systems, lighting design, HVAC design, and more.


This high-level Autodesk Research publication and presentation video summarizes a project to automate a building’s structural design process with a pre-trained differentiable structural simulator. This can lower the carbon footprint and material costs.


Frequently asked questions (FAQ) on engineering simulations

What is meant by simulation engineering?

Simulation engineering refers to the development of buildings, infrastructure, products, and systems in which simulation software plays a role in visualizing, analyzing, and predicting the behavior of those things in real-world conditions.

What types of engineering simulation exist?

The types of engineering simulation differ depending on their complexity.


Discrete event simulation (DES) models a sequence of events in a system to show how the system responds over time. It’s commonly used to analyze and improve production systems. Continuous simulation deals with a continuously progressing state of being, such as the load stress of a tank filling with water.


In process simulation, the simulated process, such as the manufacturing of a product, can identify potential problems or opportunities for efficiency. A Monte Carlo simulation looks at many random input variables to find the best output, such as matching a manufacturing process to the lowest cost for a level of demand.


A systems dynamics simulation is quite complex and takes in longer-term data flows rather than static inputs like discrete events. System dynamics simulations are useful for things like revenue projections and supply chain management.

Why is engineering simulation important?

Engineering simulation is important because it allows designers and engineers to begin testing and validating products, buildings, and systems early and often in the development process. This saves time and costs by reducing risks and optimizing designs within engineering simulation software, rather than with physical prototypes.


Engineering simulation software from Autodesk provides a centralized, cloud-connected environment for multidisciplinary collaboration and innovation, as well as informed group decision-making.