By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
It’s difficult to imagine that not so long ago, yap-a-lots like me were struggling to explain the rationale and benefits of virtual prototyping to skeptical engineers. A good part of that skepticism was justified: garbage in/garbage out, doubts the reliability of the underlying physics, a general mistrust of computers, and so on. Times have certainly changed. Virtual prototyping today is the norm. Still, however, too many people tend to think of it as just prototyping of a design to check, say, for interference or the thermal stresses a part will undergo. Excellent capabilities. But you can do much more than that.
A robust example of how much more you can do is provided by the interaction of LabVIEW from National Instruments with SolidWorks. Working together, LabVIEW and SolidWorks enable you to combine your MCAD model, a SolidWorks motion analyses, and your LabVIEW control design and simulation into a single prototype of your embedded control system and device. In other words, after you have tested your control algorithms and run your FE analyses, you can test your entire system before you build your physical proof of concept and load it with your code.
And I mean the entire system as opposed to your complete assembly or control application. LabVIEW can automatically populate your 3D SolidWorks models with your selected motors and sensors. Your actual control algorithms can then drive your 3D CAD mechanical model during its SolidWorks motion simulation. Such concurrent design takes a lot of finger crossing out of it all, doesn’t it?
Beyond virtual prototyping with SolidWorks, LabVIEW tool kits let you simulate any mechanical system. You can analyze open-loop model behavior or design closed-loop controllers. You can even convert Simulink designs to work with LabVIEW. You can read all about that by clicking on the link to today’s Check It Out report. Entitled “Combine Mechanical Simulation, Control Design in Virtual Prototyping,” this easy-to-read report is part of the Functional Prototyping Series collection of articles covering key concepts, benefits, and other technical resources on virtual prototyping that National Instruments has produced.
If you are still designing and prototyping motion systems that only act their role rather than execute a full-script simulation of it, you are not leveraging virtual prototyping to its fullest. Today’s Check It Out demonstrates that virtual prototyping has so much more to offer than you might have realized. Highly recommended.
Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering