Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Aid to optimal design

A new virtual prototyping tool allows product designers to assess multiple design parameters simultaneously, thereby shortening development cycles and improving the quality of finished goods.

Background

Simulation is a key component of modern computer-aided engineering (CAE...
A new virtual prototyping tool allows product designers to assess multiple design parameters simultaneously, thereby shortening development cycles and improving the quality of finished goods.

Background

Simulation is a key component of modern computer-aided engineering (CAE), enabling engineers to evaluate new product designs without the need for physical prototyping. But to date, simulation has only been able to show how a given design will perform. Optimisation - identifying the design which best meets the given targets - has been complex and time-consuming, often producing disappointing results. The problem is that several different disciplines are usually involved. Optimising a product's vibro-acoustic performance, for example, may lead in a different direction from the optimisation of its thermal behaviour.

Working partnerships

An Innovation project, `Software package implementing novel optimisation strategies applied to high tech products' (Spinosa), has introduced to mechanical CAE a novel software technology capable of driving multiple existing simulation tools to find an optimal design. Created by the Belgian microelectronics research centre IMEC as an aid to the rapid development of new integrated circuits, the system uses the advanced design of surface modelling methods to generate a wide range of possible designs and to test the performance of each.

IMEC refined its optimisation methodologies, while LMS (Belgium) developed the protocols to link the package to mechanical CAE tools, and a powerful graphical user interface. The resulting software, called Optimus, was tested by manufacturers in four different sectors, including Electrolux Zanussi in Italy and Thomson Television in France.

Description, impact and results

Optimus does not replace manufacturers' existing CAE simulation tools, but extracts greater value from them by providing automated links between them. The software generates input files for each simulation program, extracts the necessary data from their output files, and produces easy to understand graphics showing the relative effect of each design parameter on each aspect of performance. LMS is marketing the product through its own world-wide distribution network, under a formal agreement for the transfer to IMEC of royalties on the underlying intellectual property rights. Fifty copies have already been sold, half of them to the automotive industry. In fact, the project has introduced such valuable enhancements that Optimus is also selling well in the microelectronics industry itself. The two partners are working to extend the range of industrial processes suitable for their virtual prototyping approach, and a new version of the software has just been launched.


Source: European Commission, DG XIII/D.4 - Information and dissemination of scientific and technical knowledge
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