Robert Roe reports from the European Altair Technology Conference and finds that simulation-driven design is taking centre stage for the CAE industry.
At this year’s European Altair technology conference (EATC) there was a focus on the potential for simulation driven design, but there was also excitement about technologies such as machine learning, 3D printing, and the IoT.
From 26 to 28 June, Altair hosted its 9th EATC in the provincial town of Frankenthal, located in the Rhine/Neckar area of southwestern Germany. The conference welcomed product developers, designers, IT managers, and simulation engineers that use Altair software together to share their experience and expertise over three days of technical presentations and a product exhibition.
The EATC 2017 programme also included a trip to the German race-course – the Hockenheimring – home to the German formula one races on the evening of the second day. Here, attendees could get a tour of the area and the chance to race the course in a virtual setting using race simulators provided alongside dinner at the motor racing circuit.
Day one of the event offered the chance for attendees to learn from industry experts. The highlights were presentations and round-table discussions on maximising the efficiency of dynamic machines, design for 3D printing, efficient design strategies for electrical devices, and math and systems modelling.
In addition to the industrial user focus, the first day also hosted a European academic user day. This event aims to provide students, teachers, and researchers across Europe with the opportunity to share their experiences with Altair’s CAE software. The industry session highlighted the need for modern methods such as 3-D printing and topology optimisation, particularly when developing products such as smart or IoT devices and industry 4.0 related products. The presentation also called for engineers to consider the entire mechatronics system of a product, including structure, sensors, actuator, and controls in a system based simulation approach.
One presentation, delivered by Altair’s director of program management and business development – EM solutions, Vincente Leconte, focused on the importance of using different levels of simulation from pre-design to verification stage; the coupling between different physics; Typical calculations made for motor design and the use of optimisation studies to accelerate innovation.
Leconte also highlighted FluxMotor – a new standalone software tool focusing on the pre-design of electric rotating machines. It enables the user to design and create motors from standard or customised parts, as well as to intuitively add windings and materials to run a selection of tests and compare machine behaviour. FluxMotor is designed for the creation and performance evaluation of electric motors.
Leconte commented that developing advanced electrical machines and systems requires ‘a complete workflow for electromechanical component design’ that can integrate ‘different levels of simulation from pre-design to verification stage’, including the coupling between different physics and the use of optimisation studies to fine tune components.
Day two of the conference proceedings were dedicated to the keynote presentations including Altair representatives and some of the company’s most well-known clients including Airbus, Renault and three-time Olympic medallist and Artemis Racing Team manager Ian Percy.
James R Scapa, founder, president, and CEO of Altair initiated proceedings with an overview of the current state of the simulation market and its potential for growth in the coming years. Scapa noted that in 2015 market analysis firm CIM data published a report stating that 2015 CIM data report predicts CAM to grow by 7.9 per cent CAR to exceed seven billion over the next five years. Scapa also talked about the vision for the company and the potentially disruptive technologies that he foresaw having the greatest impact on the CAE market.
‘We are truly in the era of simulation driven design,’ said Scapa. ‘Simulation driven validation will be key to designs of the future.’
Scapa noted that big data and the cloud will continue to play a significant role in the development and consumption of software and that manufacturing methods and materials science would continue to drive innovations – particularly in areas such as additive manufacturing and the design of composites.
However, Scappa also noted several potentially disruptive technologies that Altair was exploring to see how they could be utilised in CAE. Foremost among these and perhaps the most mature of these disruptive technologies is the IoT which Scapa noted ‘is expected to explode. Some of this is hype, but we expect huge growth in the number of IoT devices.’ Scapa also stressed the potential for machine learning as this could have huge potential.
Scapa stated that Altair's focus would be on emerging technologies IOT, cloud, manufacturing methods and materials science and machine learning. ‘We are experimenting, and I think we are learning’ said Scapa.
‘You have probably noticed that electromagnetics is one area that that we have invested heavily in,’ said Scapa.
This is evident by the acquisitions and updates to its software that Altair has made over the last 12 months. In May the latest release of FLUX, part of the Altair HyperWorks simulation platform released the latest version of the software, Flux 12.3. Flux is aimed at designers that need to analyse, design and optimise modern applications such as electric rotating machines, actuators, and sensors, high power electrical equipment, heat treatment or electromagnetic compatibility.
In the same month, Altair also announced the acquisition of MODELiiS, a supplier of electronic design automation software for circuit modelling, system design and simulation tools based in Grenoble, France.
‘With the MODELiiS acquisition, we plan to continue our growth and investment in our EDA capabilities to deliver the most relevant, optimal, simulation-driven design solutions for IoT,’ said Scapa. ‘Simulation and optimisation are fundamental to the design of communication and controls for everything from personal devices to autonomous vehicles.’
However, this was not just aimed at the growing EM market but also the potential use of this software in the design of IoT and its related devices. It is expected that this will solidify and strengthen Altair’s value proposition for the development of IoT and autonomous transportation products – another key technology Scappa highlighted in the EATC keynote.
Following James Scapa, Dr Uwe Schramm provided an overview of the future development roadmap of the Altair simulation tools. Schramm stressed the importance of deploying simulation in the development of all modern products – from design to verification.
Day 3 opened with another Altair keynote presentation from Altair’s CMO Jeff Brennan, who discussed the Altair Partner Alliance (APA). This was followed by James Dagg, CTO at Altair who presented insights into the next generation of HyperWorks tools. Following the keynotes, the sessions split into parallel tracks that focused on car optimisation, NVH and acoustics, structure and optimisation, motion and durability, crash, electromagnetics, CAE processes and CFD and materials. These sessions offered almost 50 presentation on niche topics that demonstrate real applications of engineering using Altair software.