The aviation industry takes off
As Tadas Vidžiūnas, Baltic Sales Manager at the international company RAND Software OU, reminds us, digital modelling is not a new trend in the world – it dates back almost half a century.
„The first version of the Abaqus software for digital modelling was released in 1978. As with most new technologies, the ideas were first born in the minds of scientists,“ says the representative of RAND Software OU, a company with more than 25 years of experience in 3D design, simulation and PLM (product lifecycle management) systems.
The initial application of digital simulation in a commercial environment is naturally linked to the aviation industry – it is quite difficult to test planes in a variety of conditions without risking the pilot's life – and digital simulation has successfully solved this problem.
„As aviation objects have become bigger and more complex over time, digital testing has taken on a different meaning: it is extremely expensive to make prototypes of a plane and to test them, so it is much cheaper to have a digital prototype that can be easily tweaked, tested and refined,“ he explained.
Tools are improved every day
Today, digital simulation technology is not only used in aerospace, automotive and other large industries but also in the production of simple products such as plastic bottles, where problems such as how long carbon dioxide will stay in the container, how thick the walls need to be to prevent breakage when the bottle is thrown away, etc., can be addressed.
„For example, Dassault Systemes, the corporation that develops the software we supply, has 20,000 employees who work every day to improve tools and introduce new technologies. I think the next big step is autonomous vehicles, where modelling different situations is extremely important because of the many variables involved,“ he said. – Electromagnetic simulations have also been developing strongly recently thanks to the explosion of the IOT industry. Devices that used to be quite simple are now equipped with sensors and antennas, interconnected to each other and a common network. Predicting the movement of electromagnetic waves is no longer so simple. This is why electromagnetic modelling provides a visual tool to help make the right decisions.“
From time and cost to quality
As T. Vidžiūnas points out, one of today's biggest challenges in the face of intensifying competition is the need to create the right product the first time.
„Not only does it have to be good, but it also has to be delivered to the market on time – that is, sooner than the competition will be able to do it. Using numerical modelling, product development time can be significantly reduced. Another very important benefit is reliability testing. Imagine if a new car model is launched on the market six months later and a number of major defects are found, at a huge financial cost to the manufacturer or even to the company's reputation. So testing a product digitally saves costs and time and determines quality,“ said a representative of RAND Software OU.
Conventional methods, the expert said, make projects very complicated and expensive, and some scenarios are sometimes even impossible to predict.
To ensure the best results, Vidžiūnas recommends that digital modelling should be applied while the product is still being developed, as the cost of correcting errors sometimes arises in the later stages of product development.
Products are increasingly complex
„I would also mention sustainability. These requirements are becoming more and more stringent, and we are forced to use the right materials and progressive processes,“ he points out. – Numerical simulations help to assess CO2 consumption as well as the various different materials, including composites, before the product is developed.“
What are the most advanced tools and solutions in digital simulation processes available to users today? What are the most relevant trends today? According to T. Vidžiūnas, digital modelling has definitely advanced significantly in recent years.
It is possible to model not only the individual parts of a product but also the final product, which is made up of various interconnected systems and the entire life cycle of a product, from the idea to the after-sales service, the speaker said.
Products are thus becoming more and more complex, with not only physical features but also software that needs to be linked through the digital modelling of the systems.
Demand will only increase
„If we want to be competitive, we need to use all the tools that create value and draw on the best practices of the major manufacturers, the market leaders,“ says Vidžiūnas.
At the same time, the latest trends are coming from the leap in 3D printing technology: „Innovative materials can be used here, and production is not shackled to traditional frames. It is not confined to a rigid mold but is shaped into whatever shape we want, which makes products lighter, stronger and smarter. The Dassault Systemes software we supply allows us to simulate the entire 3D printing cycle and optimise the shapes. These technologies are already widely used by the aerospace, automotive and military industries, and the possibilities are only set to grow.“
The increasing importance of digital modelling is leading to a shortage of specialists in this field.
„We are responding to this problem by providing special conditions for educational institutions, thus helping to train specialists whose demand will also grow in the future,“ says T. Vidžiūnas, Baltic Sales Manager at RAND Software OU.