A few days ago someone asked me if ANSYS flagship products are appropriate for the “average” engineer, and more particularly design engineers doing upfront simulation. I believe the better question to ask is which ANSYS products are geared toward design engineers, and why.
More often than not, design engineers are quite familiar with 3-D modeling tools, which are the starting point of simulations in the product development process. But given their focus on product design, manufacturability, documentation, etc., they typically do not have time or prior experience required to learn how to use a fully featured simulation tool like ANSYS Mechanical or CFD.
As a result, design engineers either rely on others to perform simulation, which can result in costly delays, or end up not using simulation at all, which limits the engineering insight available to improve product performance. To some extent, the industry has recognized this issue and tried to address it by including some simulation functionality within CAD tools.
The primary drawback with this approach is that the underlying simulation technology in a CAD tool is primitive compared to the technology available from a dedicated simulation provider like ANSYS. Another drawback is that the simulation workflow is constrained by the design of the CAD tool, whose primary goal is to help create CAD models, documentation, and manufacturing drawings. In an ideal scenario, the design engineer would have access to sophisticated simulation technology but in a package that was very easy to use and applicable to multiple engineering disciplines.
With that said, I can think of three reasons why ANSYS AIM is the ideal simulation tool for design engineers. All three reasons promote the goal of increased simulations earlier in the design phase.
Ease of use
The first is that ANSYS AIM was built for design engineers. The entire user experience and workflow has been shaped to guide the design engineer through the steps of a simulation with minimal inputs, minimal training, and without requiring prior experience. For example, a deep understanding of meshing options is not needed because the physics sensitive settings automatically create a mesh that is ready to go with minimal user input. Of course adjustments can intuitively be made to a mesh as desired and as the engineer gains more experience.
Because ANSYS flagship solvers are working behind the scenes, you get the same level of accuracy that you would get by doing a similar study in a flagship product. The difference is that it’s easier for a design engineer to achieve goals in AIM than could be done otherwise.
Multiple simulation types in a single user interface
Second, AIM addresses a variety of simulation disciplines within a single user interface. Regardless of whether the engineer wants to solve a structural, fluids, thermal, electromagnetic problem or a combination therefore, he or she can do it all in a single tool. This means a design engineer now has exposure and accessibility to several relevant physics and does not have a to learn a new tool for each discipline.
Since AIM is contained within one user interface and is generally easy to use (many users report learning AIM in only a few hours), understanding one physics workflow reduces the learning curve of others. A designer could go one step further and couple the output of one physics to the input of another, such as viewing the thermal stresses on the walls of a pipe stemming from hot/cold fluid being mixed inside the pipe.
Cost of Ownership
Third, looking at total cost of ownership, AIM gives you access to several physics solvers with an investment in just one package. This alone is a major benefit. Of course, ANSYS flagship products have a depth of physics that AIM does not, but often designers will have fundamental simulation needs spanning several physics. It would be impractical to invest resources in product ownership and training for all physics needed, when you can get what you need in one package with AIM. And as mentioned before, users generally learn AIM in a short amount of time, which greatly reduces the overall cost of ownership by virtually eliminating the need for classroom training etc.
I invite you to learn more about AIM and watch a brief demonstration from our popular ANSYS in Action series. This particular demonstration focuses on the several physics available in AIM, all stemming from one geometry file. And last but not least, try out AIM by requesting a downloadable trial. See for yourself how easy and powerful AIM really is.