The big technologies right now are Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and the automation of everything from manufacturing to our automobiles. These advanced technologies will transform how we live our lives. But ” While AI, IoT, and automation are taking over we forgot about genetic engineering.” This is something everyone, especially those in tech, need to stay on top of.
Lots of things come to mind on September 11th. The bravery of the first responders, the way the country came together after the attacks, the changes in how we live our lives every day now because of what happened. The most important lesson that we learned was that “On 9/11, we’re reminded that the unthinkable can happen.“
Yesterday ANSYS, Inc. did a webinar about a technology that was going to “Change the way simulation is done.” If you have been around the world of FEA and CFD for the 30+ years I have you have heard that statement before. And rarely does the actual product change match the hype. Not true for ANSYS Discovery Live. If anything, I think they are holding back. This is disruptive, this is a tool that will change how people do simulation. In this post I’ll share my thoughts on what it is and why I think it is so transformative, and then in the second half (go ahead, if you don’t want to listen to me go on and on about how much I like this tool, skip ahead) there are some tips on how to get your hands on it to see for yourself.
What is ANSYS Discovery Live?
ANSYS Discovery Live is a new multiple physics simulation platform that combines several key ingredients to produce a software tool that engineers can use to do almost instantaneous virtual prototypes of the behavior of their designs directly from their solid models. The developers at ANSYS, Inc. have combined their knowledge of advanced solver technology, making solvers parallel for Graphical Processor Units (GPUs, high-end graphics cards), direct solid modeling (SpaceClaim), and some advanced stuff on the discretization side I don’t think I can talk about. All of those things embedded inside SpaceClaim make ANSYS Discovery Live.
Once you have a solid model in the tool, you simply define what physics you want to solve and some boundary conditions, then it solves. In almost real time. Right there in front of you. The equivalent steps of meshing, building the model, solving it, extracting results, and displaying the results are done automatically. It may iterate a few times to converge on a solution, but in a few seconds, you will have a good enough answer to give you insight into your design.
And that is the key point. This is not a replacement for ANSYS Mechanical, FLUENT, or HFSS. It is a tool for exploring your designs and gaining insight into their behavior. It allows the design engineer, with very little training or expertise, to exercise their design and see what happens.
The product lives inside ANSYS Spaceclaim and can be installed on its own. It runs on Windows and requires a NVidia graphics card with a newer GPU (see below for more on that). Right now the product is in pre-release mode and anyone, yes anyone, can go to www.ansys.com/discovery and download it and try it out. And please, share your feedback. Expect the product to be released in the first quarter of 2018. Pricing and bundling have not been firmed up yet, but from what we have seen the plans are reasonable and make sense.
Why is it Unique in the Industry?
Some of the first comments I saw on social media about ANSYS Discovery Live after the webinar were that it is not a unique tool. There are other GPU based solvers out there. That is true. But even though those tools are super fast at solving, they have not been widely adopted. The ANSYS product is unique because it: 1) combines GPU based solvers for multiple physics and 2) is built into a fully functioning solid modeling tools. A third might be that it is also an ANSYS product, which means it will be backed technically and supported well.
Why I think that the Simple Fact that it Exists is Important?
During an interview for a magazine article about innovation in product development this week I was asked what is keeping innovation from happening more often. My answer was that most companies with the resources, both money and people, to innovate are choosing to acquire rather than innovate internally. They let others raise money, take all the risk, work out all the problems, deal with all the issues of trying to make something new. And then when they succeed, they buy them. There is nothing morally wrong with that approach, it is just inefficient and inaccurate. Every innovation has to not only survive its technical challenges, it has to survive being a startup.
What ANSYS, Inc. has done is the opposite. They could have purchased a GPU based solver startup and checked the box. But instead, they took people from different business units, several that were acquired, and put them together and said: “innovate… but make it something very useful.” And they did. The fact that they executed on the logistics of a new product that used new and old technology across physics and across software development realms, is fantastic. It makes me feel good about ANSYS, Inc’s true dedication to improving their products.
How will it Change Simulation?
In my career, I have had the same conversation dozens of times “Let me go out to the lab and tinker with it, I’ll figure out what is going on.” That is the way you had to explore your product to get a “feel” for what is going on. Simulation took too long and you became so wrapped up in the process of building and running a model that you could not really explore the behavior of your product. Now we can.
ANSYS Discovery Live is called Discovery Live not because anyone at ANSYS is a marketing genius (sorry guys…) but because that is what it lets you do. Discover the behavior of your product live. You simply play with it and see what happens. And this will change simulation because we know can move from verification or optimization to simply experimenting and gaining a deeper understanding, early in the design process. We will still do what is now I guess called traditional simulation. We will need more accuracy, more complex physics, loads, and behavior. But early on we can learn so much by virtually experimenting.
Is it the Perfect Tool Right out of the Box?
This is not a perfect-does-everything tool. First off, it is a pre-release. The basic functionality to make it useful is there. More than I thought would be available in a first release. But there are limitations because it is new, or because of the approach. It is not as accurate as more traditional approaches. The way it works takes some shortcuts on geometry and can’t include some behaviors. This should improve over time but it will never be accurate as more time-consuming approaches that simply have more functionality.
Over the next two to three years we will see it mature and add functionality and accuracy. The GPU’s the tool depends on will offer more performance for less money as well. This is a journey, but right now everyone I have talked to who has actually played with the pre-release is very happy with the functionality and accuracy that is there now. Because it is sufficient to do the experimentation and exploration it was designed to allow.
ANSYS, Inc. realized that this type of tool demos so well, and is so different, that a skeptical group of engineers will not accept what they see in a webinar as accurate. So they have made the pre-release available for use. You can download it and install it, or explore with it in the cloud through your browser.
- To get started, go to www.ansys.com/discovery and look around. The videos are awesome! When you are ready to try it out, click on Download Now. Fill out the form. Don’t complain. Yes you will get a few emails and a salesperson (gasp!) may call you. It’s worth some emails and maybe a phone call.
- Set yourself up there. There is a verification code step and once you put that in and create your login, you have to click on some legal agreements, including export controls. Save your login info, you will need it to get back in.
- After that either start the download or the Cloud Trial Option. The cloud trial didn’t work for me, read below how I got to that function.
- If you chose download it will download a big Zip File, over 1 GB. It is a full solid modeler and CFD/Structural/Thermal solver… so it is big.
- Once it is there, unzip, and run Setup.exe. follow the steps and you will be there.
- If you don’t have a graphics card that will run this, then use the cloud demo. Like I said above, the button didn’t work for me. If you have that problem or you want to use it after your first login, go to:
- https://discoveryforum.ansys.com/ and click on “Getting Started.”
- Scroll down a bit and find the “Cloud Trial” post. That one takes you to the page where you can find a server near you to try things out on. It’s pretty slick.
- If you need to get back here, use https://discoveryforum.ansys.com/ and log in with the email and password you gave at registration,
The only sticky bit about this whole thing is that it run a subset of Nvidia graphics cards. So you have to have one of those cards. According to the information in the forum:
ANSYS Discovery Live relies on the latest GPU technology to provide its computation and visual experience. To run the software, you will require:
– A dedicated NVIDIA GPU card based on the Kepler, Maxwell or Pascal architecture. Most dedicated NVIDIA GPU cards produced in 2013 or later will be based on one of these architectures.
– At least 4GB of video RAM (8GB preferred) on the GPU.
Also, please ensure you have the latest driver for your graphics card, available from NVIDIA Driver Downloads. You can also refer to the post on Graphics Performance Benchmarks. Performance of Discovery Live is less dependent on machine CPU and RAM. A recent generation 64-bit CPU running Windows, and at least 4GB of RAM will be sufficient. If you do not have a graphics card that meets these specifications, the software will not run. However, you can try ANSYS Discovery Live through an online cloud-based trial, which requires only an internet browser and a reasonably fast internet connection.
I didn’t know if my GPU on my laptop would work, so I went to https://www.techpowerup.com and put in my card model (nvidia m500m) and it told me it was Maxwell technology.
Go Forth and Discover, and Share
Don’t hesitate, download this and try it out. Even if you are a high-end combustion simulation expert that will never need it, if you are interested in Simulation you should still try it out. Use the forum to share your thoughts and questions. The gallery is already filling up with some fantastic real world examples.
Being able to grow your own replacement organ is one of those things, like flying cars, that we have been waiting a long time for. The combination of stem cells and 3D Printing may be what we need to get that new liver on order. In “How close are we to 3-D Printing human organs?” I go over where we are with this technology and what is needed to take those final steps.
As with any technology, automation of social media has been co opted for evil. A recent example of this with the President gave me a bit of a scare, and in “‘Bots’ are here, and they are scaring this tech guy a little” I share why and what we can do about it.
Self-driving cars are being tested in the Phoenix area now, and they will be available to businesses and consumers soon. Such a significant change will affect tech businesses, even if they are not in the automotive supply chain. In “Autonomous cars are coming soon. What you need to know” we take a look at the tech behind them and what businesses need to know about this disruptive trend.
I still can’t believe it. I’m still kind of mad. I went with my son to get his driver’s licence and it was a smooth and efficient process. After I got done reeling from this change in a cornerstone of common modern struggles, I realized that “If the DMV can be efficient, so can your business.” We no longer have an excuse for being inefficient, if the DMV can clean up its act we have to.
PADT and Stratasys have worked with Lockheed Martin to establish a new Additive Manufacturing Laboratory at Metropolitan State University in downtown Denver. The Lockheed Martin Additive Manufacturing Laboratory is the first-of-its-kind facility in Colorado. It is focused on giving students and industry access to the equipment and faculty needed to develop the next generation of manufacturing tooling, based on the use of 3D printing to make the tooling.
This is PADT’s third successful contribution to the creation of Academia + Industry + Equipment Manufacturer lab, the others being at ASU Polytechnic focused on characterization of 3D Printed parts and at Mesa Community College, focused on training the needed technicians and engineers for running and maintaining additive manufacturing systems. These types of efforts show the commitment from Stratasys, industrial partners, and PADT to making sure that the academic side of new manufacturing technology is being addressed and is working with industry.
We reported on the grand opening of the facility here,and are very pleased to be able to announce the official partnership for the Laboratory. Great partners make all the difference.
The ability to take a model of some object on a computer and make a physical copy with one machine, 3-D Printing or Additive Manufacturing, has been around for more than twenty-five years. Recently, the bug noise in 3D Printing has been around metal 3D Printing. It is a big deal, and in “What’s so exciting about metal 3-D printing anyway?” I explain why engineers are so head-over-heals for this new capability.
In our new modern world, much has changed. We are more connected and more mobile, working anywhere we need to. And with the emergence of the sharing economy we are letting others drive us and staying in other people’s homes. This impacts a lot of things in our lives, but one major input is that “Making a statement about who you are in a digital, shared world” is very different. Take a look at this post and think about it. How do you share who you are?
The A in PADT actually stands for Analysis. Back in 1994 when the company was started, computer modeling for mechanical engineering was called Analysis. It was such an important part of what we wanted to achieve that we put it in the name. Unfortunately, Analysis was a bit to generic so the industry switched to Numerical Simulation, or simply simulation. In the 23 years since we started, analysis… sorry, simulation, has been not just a foundation for what PADT does for our customers, it has become a defacto tool in product development. Through it all there has been a dedicated group here that is focused on providing the best simulation as a service to customers around the world.
Driving Designs with Simulation
Many companies know about PADT with regards to simulation because we are an ANSYS Elite Channel Partner – selling and supporting the entire suite of ANSYS simulation tools in the Southwestern US. The success of simulation in the design and development of physical products is a direct result of the fact that these fantastic tools from ANSYS can be used to drive the design of products. This can be done in-house by companies designing the products, or outsourced to experts. And that is where PADT has come in for hundreds of customers around the world. The expertise we use to support and train on ANSYS products derives directly from our real world experience providing CFD, structural, thermal, electromagnetic, and multiphysics simulations to help those customers drive their product development.
For those not familiar with simulation, or who only use the basic tools embedded in CAD software as a quick check, understanding why it is so important hinges on understand what it really is. Numerical Simulation is a methodology where a physical product is converted into a computer model that represents its physical behavior. This behavior can be many different physics: stresses, vibration, fluid flow, temperature flow, high frequency electromagnetic radiation, sloshing of liquids, deformation during impact, piezoelectric response, heating from static electromagnetic waves, cooling from air flow. The list goes on and on. Pretty much anything you studied in physics can be modeled using a numerical simulation.
The process of doing the simulation consists of taking the physical object and breaking it into discrete chunks, often very small relative to the size of the object, so that equations can easily be written for each chunk that describes the physical behavior of that chunk relative to the chunks around it. Imagine writing equations for the fluid flow in a complicated valve housing, very hard to do. But if you break it up into about one million small polyhedrons, you can write an equation for flow in and out of each polyhedron. These equations are then assembled into a giant matrix and solved using linear algebra. That is why we need such large computers. We mostly use the world’s leading software for this, from ANSYS, Inc.
More than Building and Running Models
Knowing how to build and run finite element and CFD models is key to providing simulation as a service. PADT’s team averages over 18 years of experience and few people come close to their knowledge on geometry preparation, meshing, setting up loads and boundary conditions, leveraging the advantages of each solver, and post processing. That is a good starting point. But what really sets PADT apart is the understanding of how the simulation fits into product development, and how the information gathered from simulation can and should be used. Instead of providing a number or a plot, PADT’s experienced engineers deliver insight into the behavior of the products being simulated.
How each project is conducted is also something that customers keep coming back for. Nothing is ever “thrown over the wall” our passed through a “black box.” From quote through delivery of final report, PADT’s engineers work closely with the customer’s engineers to understand requirements, get to the heart of what the customer is looking for, and deliver useful and actionable information. And if you have your own in-house simulation team, we will work closely with them to help them understand what we did so they can add it to their capabilities. In fact, one of the most popular simulation services offered by PADT is automation of the simulation process with software tools written on top of ANSYS products. This is a fantastic way to leverage PADT’s experience and knowledge to make your engineers more efficient and capable.
Unparalleled Breadth and Depth
Based on feedback from our customers, the other area where PADT really stands out is in the incredible breadth and depth of capability offered. Whereas most service providers specialize in one type of simulation or a single industry, more than twenty years of delivering high-end simulation to evaluate hundreds of products has given PADT’s team a unique and special level of understanding and expertise. From fluid flow in aerospace cooling systems to electromagnetics for an antenna in a smart toy, a strong theoretical understanding is combined with knowledge about the software tools to apply the right approach to each unique problem.
No where is this breadth and depth exemplified than with PADT’s relationship with ANSYS, Inc. Since the company was founded, PADT engineers have worked closely with ANSYS development and product management to understand these powerful tools better and to offer their advice on how to make them better. And each time ANSYS, Inc. develops or acquires a new capability, that same team steps up and digs deep into the functionality that has been added. And when necessary, adding new engineers to the team to offer our customers the same expert access to these new tools.
The best way to understand why hundreds of companies, many of them large corporations that are leaders in their industry, come to PADT from around the world for their simulation services needs is to talk to us about your simulation services needs. Regardless of the industry or the physics, our team is ready to help you drive your product development with simulation. Contact us now to start the discussion.
There is a great STEM program here in Arizona called the “Chief Science Officer” that is backed by the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Technology Council. In “Building tomorrow’s science and technology leaders with Arizona’s Pioneering Chief Science Officer program” I go over some highlights on how they take kids interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and help them become leaders in their schools and advocates for better STEM education.