In my last post I questioned whether or not FEA was "above your pay grade". The response was interesting, and oddly enough Deelip Menezes posted a blog about analysis that stoke the fire a bit http://www.deelip.com/?p=2673. Well, poured gasoline on it really...[grin] I love how he gets people all fired up. Here's the excerpt that I think got everyone talking:
"When I say that today’s simulation solutions do not solve users problems I am referring to the fact that these solutions merely report the problem and quantify it, but leave the fixing to be done by the user. For example, take a FEA analysis on a part. A user sets up loads, defines boundary conditions, assigns material properties, etc. and then tells the simulation software to do its thing. The thing that the simulation software actually does is it that it tells the user whether the part will fail or not, where and how it will fail and gives him a host of other data which the user is left to study and decide what to do next. The software does not automatically tweak the geometry of the model for the user and reanalyze for failure and continue to do so till a fail safe design has been reached."
Here's my take for what it's worth. Technology will never (nor should it) take the engineering out of the engineer or designing out of the designer. What it can do is make the engineering process faster and more accurate before you cut the first physical part. Could you physically manufacture as many different configurations of a design as quickly as you can run through all the variations in an optimization analysis? Of course not. So is it worth the time to setup the range of possibilities so that the technology will return to you a list of results and provide input as to the optimum design given the parameters? Yes. Especially when you can run through an incredible amount of variation by tapping into the power of cloud based computing.
That's where the Inventor Optimization Technology Preview from Autodesk LABS comes into play. Parametric optimization that's easy to setup, push to the cloud and pick the lightest configuration that still meets your goals for strength and safety factor. While its up in the cloud doing its thing, you can keep on with other work, making drawings, other parts, surfing the web, Facebooking - you know the important stuff. When it's done, you get a nice email telling you that the analysis is complete. Load up the results and it will tell you which one is the optimized configuration. Couldn't possibly be easier than that.
Check out the video and let me know what you think.