GrabCAD, SimScale Challenge Promotes Cloud-based Design

GrabCAD and SimScale are teaming up on a design challenge that encourages participants to show off their CAD and simulation prowess by designing a new underrun protection device for trucks.

What’s important about the collaboration is the coming together of two upstarts with a common vision for how cloud-based 3D design and collaboration tools can radically transform how engineering teams work together to produce more robust and innovative products.

GrabCAD, a three-year-old 3D content-exchange community, just logged its 1 millionth user and is currently home to more then 370,000 shared CAD files. Last year, the company turned its attention to cloud-hosted collaboration and file-sharing, introducing its GrabCAD Workbench offering.

SimScale, for its part, makes modeling and simulation tools available as an on-demand cloud-based service. The platform, available via a standard Web browser, delivers simulation capabilities in the areas of structural mechanics, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, and acoustics, along with CAD preparation, meshing, and post-processing functionality. With its cloud-based approach and no need for costly and hard-to-administer hardware and software, SimScale aims to bring simulation to a broader swath of users in much the same vein as what GrabCAD is trying to do for CAD collaboration.

Armed with a standard Web browser and Internet connection, users can set up a range of simulations on the SimScale platform. Image Courtesy of SimScale

“There’s definitely a parallel vision behind the idea for GrabCAD and SimScale that new Web technology—specifically 3D capabilities in a browser and the cloud—creates new opportunities for engineers to do their work much faster and easier,” explained David Heiny, head of product, at SimScale.

GrabCAD’s Rob Stevens, vice president of sales and marketing, put his own spin on how cloud enables a new engineering workflow, particularly when it comes to file management and collaboration. “Engineering is a team sport, but the reality is most tools and processes are not built that way,” he explains. “The cloud enables team behavior in a way that we couldn’t do when things were isolated and hard to move around. It makes it easy for engineers to work together and collaborate.”

Once a user signs on o SimScale, they simply upload a CAD model and can tap into all of the platform’s simulation capabilities, from meshing to setting up boundary conditions, to running the actual analysis studies using FEA (finite element analysis), CFD (computational fluid dynamics), or any of the other solvers. The analysis happens out in the cloud on a remote system, Heiny explains, and users can take advantage of the platform’s post-processing tools to visualize the results or download them directly to their own desktop for use with their own post-processing tools if that’s their preference.

Once a CAD model is uploaded SimScale handles everything including mesh generation, analysis setup, solver monitoring, and post-processing within the browser. Image Courtesy of SimScale

With the sponsored competition, SimScale is hoping to introduce its vision of a cloud-based simulation service to the GrabCAD audience while soliciting feedback on the platform. Participants will be tasked with designing an underrun protection device, which sits on the rear end of a truck to help increase traffic safety by preventing the colliding car from running under the truck—a scenario that could be deadly for passengers.

The underrun protection device, which will be judged by the SimScale team, will be measured on weight and stiffness. The SimScale platform comes into play by helping participants validate the performance of their design; participants can use SimScale’s free basic offering and there are video and documented tutorials to help people get started.

The Truck Underrun Protection Challenge ends on Feb. 19, 2014 and winners will be announced by March 19,2014.

This video clip provides an overview on how to get started with SimScale.

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