Software News

Ansoft certifies automotive industry standard VHDL-AMS models

Ansoft Corp. has certified the VHDL-AMS models available from the FAT-AK30 working group of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (Verband der Automobilindustrie - VDA ) to run in Simplorer, the company's widely used multi-domain system simulation software. The library is targeted for use by automotive OEMs and suppliers.

The German Association of the Automotive Industry consists partly of automobile manufactures and their development partners. The FAT-AK30 working group is organized within the German Association for Research in Automobile Technology (FAT) of the VDA. Speaker of the group is Ewald Hessel from Hella KGaA Hueck & Co. Lippstadt. The group provides its open-source VHDL-AMS model library to support the interchange of models between car manufacturers (OEMs) and their suppliers.

Hessel says, “The support of VHDL-AMS and its application by the EDA companies is well appreciated, and Ansoft's Simplorer is one of the tools used by members of AK30 for verification and test of new models.”

Supporting the VDA/FAT-AK30 VHDL-AMS libraries along with the Simplorer VHDL-AMS SML (Simplorer Model Language) and C-Model libraries helps design teams reduce risk and enable first-pass system success in complex automotive system design, contributing significantly to the safety and success of the product design stage through virtual hands-on experience.

“Simplorer's support of the VDA/FAT-AK30 VHDL-AMS models provides our users with access to standardized automotive component models that can be readily placed within a design,” says Dr. Marius Rosu, Ansoft's manager of Simplorer modeling development. “This greatly simplifies the process of simulation, allows it to be used far earlier in the development process and supports the seamless exchange of data between automotive suppliers and manufacturers.”

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Ansoft Corp.

Software Products

DISCUS announces product suite for aerospace detailed design

DISCUS, the aerospace software tool for leaning out design-to-manufacturing processes, is expanding. DISCUS Basic (which is focused on legacy aerospace parts) is now joined by companion products, DISCUS 3-D and DISCUS Design.

DISCUS Basic is the foundation on which every DISCUS product is built. It lets users identify part characteristics on a PDF or TIFF drawing by simple clicking. DISCUS users have routinely reported over 50 percent reductions in the time needed to complete AS9102 first article inspections.

For example, Mark Miscavage, quality assurance supervisor, Unison Engine Components said, “During my DISCUS ROI analysis, we found that the cost of this software will be recouped in five weeks in labor savings on first articles.”

DISCUS 3-D adds to the feature set of DISCUS Basic by providing the ability to operate on 3-D CAD models. DISCUS 3-D is “CAD neutral” supporting the leading CAD formats, such as UG NX, CATIA, Pro/E, and SolidWorks. DISCUS 3-D does not require an expensive CAD license or format conversion. DISCUS 3-D interrogates the CAD model to further reduce the time and effort to establish quality plans.

DISCUS Design integrates a manufacturing process knowledgebase with the CAD model to enable Design for Six Sigma. By enabling the consistent reuse of manufacturing knowledge and process capabilities, DISCUS Design helps to reduce the time and effort to create a detailed design while simultaneously ensuring producibility. As part of the DISCUS family, it also automatically generates information for downstream manufacturing engineering and quality planning.

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National Instruments introduces LabVIEW 8.5

National Instruments has released the NI LabVIEW 8.5 Control Design and Simulation Module, an extension of the LabVIEW graphical system design platform that helps engineers and scientists analyze open-loop model behavior, design closed-loop controllers, simulate systems and create real-time implementations.

The latest version of the module introduces new design features such as analytical proportional integral derivative (PID) for improving system closed-loop stability and model predictive control to multivariable systems. The LabVIEW Control Design and Simulation Module also offers expanded support of LabVIEW MathScript with the addition of 18 new .m file functions to simplify such tasks as creating models, defining how models are connected and analyzing system stability.

“The LabVIEW Control Design and Simulation Module significantly reduced the time it took us to develop the dynamic positioning on a split hopper vessel,” says Miguel Taboada, control engineer with SEAPLACE, a naval engineering company in Madrid, Spain. “The module made it easy for us to simulate our different control algorithms and test the code without the use of any hardware. When we achieved the results we wanted in simulation, we were able to reuse the graphical code created with the module and deploy it to real hardware and debug it – all within a single day.”

A new time-saving feature in the LabVIEW Control Design and Simulation Module is analytical PID capability. Historically, engineers and scientists have identified the proper PID controller gain values by experimentally tuning their controllers. The analytical PID feature provides engineers and scientists with functions to find sets of PID gain values automatically for a given system model, making it easy for them to avoid undesired behavior at design time and improve system stability.

The latest version of the module also includes model predictive control (MPC), a algorithm used in industry to control multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) systems in complex process control applications.

Engineers and scientists can use the MPC feature to construct controllers that adjust the control action before a change in the output setpoint actually occurs. This ability to predict model behavior combined with traditional feedback helps the controller make smoother adjustments that are closer to the optimal control action values.

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National Instruments

Revelations CNC software is a powerful productivity tool

Bryant Grinder, who introduced the first computer numerically controlled (CNC) grinding, has launched its Revelations CNC software.

Revelations is software that can be adapted for any machine tool that uses a PC-based control. With touch-screen controls and a familiar, simple operator interface, Revelations is a productivity tool for the production floor. Faster operator training, programming time, setup and cycle times, and less scrap, all contribute to lower overhead and increased profitability.

Based on Microsoft Windows, Revelations was developed by Bryant machine operators, manufacturing engineers and control software engineers. Their goals were to create control software that minimized screen navigation and was easy for both programmers and operators to use. Revelations design lets users call up any function or operation with three button pushes or less, increasing machine flexibility, and reducing both setup time and part cycle time.

Currently running on a number of new and remanufactured grinding machines, Revelations has proven itself as a productivity tool on the production floor. With one customer’s part, cycle time was reduced from 157 seconds to 29 seconds – a savings of over two minutes per part. On that one machine alone the customer is realizing a savings of more than $625,000 per year. At that customer’s shop rate, even a one-second cycle time reduction can translate to an annual cost savings of up to $36,000.

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Vermont Machine Tool

Product design process improved with VX real-time analysis

VX Corporation, specializing in CAD/CAM for consumer products and molds, announces real-time curvature and draft analysis capabilities in VX CAD/CAM Version 13 for enhanced consumer product development.

Two types of analysis of importance to consumer product developers are zebra stripe and draft analysis. Zebra stripe analysis is a “striping” technique that lets designers analyze curvature, providing early insight into a product’s look and feel – two characteristics of importance in consumer product development. Draft analysis is important for evaluating the “moldability” of a product. Not enough draft, negative draft, or undercuts increases complexity, cost and time in both mold and product production – something manufacturers seek to avoid.

Designers have to go into a special analysis mode to do these types of analysis and then go back into modeling mode to make modifications. This slows down and interrupts the design process, and puts designers in a trial-and-error, flip/flop mode of operation that degrades their overall performance.

VX Version 13, lets users work on a model while displaying either a zebra stripe or draft analysis thus providing real-time feedback without interruptions or slow-downs.

VX hybrid modeling lets users model solid, surface or wire-frame geometry in real-time analysis mode reducing interruptions to session or system degradation. For example, an industrial designer can turn on zebra striping analysis to check curvature while modeling a product and then switch over to draft analysis to see if there are any draft problems.

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VX Corp.

SolidWorks Labs more than doubles its emerging technology offerings

SolidWorks Labs, the technology sandbox for curious SolidWorks3D CAD software users, has more than doubled the number of free experimental software offerings since its February 2007 launch.

New offerings:

  • A SolidWorks Labs Gallery to showcase the finest creations generated by SolidWorks Labs visitors using the modeling and rendering tools on the site.
  • iPhone support for Drawings Now, the online sharing service for engineering drawings. Users can use their Apple mobile devices to locate, zoom, and pan engineering drawings with their fingertips.
  • CB Model Pro, a 3D modeling program that lets anyone, CAD user or not, develop 3D graphical models by simply virtually squeezing, pulling, flattening organic shapes. It acts like digital clay.
  • A Showcase Widget that lets users create slideshows of their SolidWorks designs simply by pointing to a folder of designs.
  • A WatchIt Widget that lets users keep track of which files are changing on a system, drive, or folder. Call it mini-PDM for everyone.
  • SolidWorks Island in Second Life, the 3-D virtual world, offering opportunities for learning, entertainment, networking, collaboration, virtual surfing, virtual Formula 1 racing, and events like simulcast real-world robotics competitions.
  • 3D ContentCentral Search tools, which embed a part search into users’ Web browsers.
  • An Improved ZoomIn interface, layout, and materials selection, enabling users to immerse themselves and their audience in even more dynamic presentations of SolidWorks models. For example, users can now set designs on virtual plant floors or in virtual kitchens.

SolidWorks Labs was launched as an online destination that lets product designers and engineers go behind the curtain of SolidWorks R&D. They can tinker with emerging technologies, test-drive new SolidWorks functionality through their Web browser, and weigh in on the company’s product direction. All services and software are free. The site invites comments through a feedback link. Comments go directly to SolidWorks R&D.

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SolidWorks Labs