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The release of ANSYS Discovery Live turned a lot of heads in 2017. What should we expect from simulation vendors in 2018?
(Image courtesy of ANSYS.) The year 2017 contained quite a few bombshells in the world of computer-aided engineering (CAE) and simulation. From the release of near real-time simulation software, to the surprise and, the past 12 months have been quite entertaining. So, the question on the minds of those in the simulation community is, what can we expect in 2018 and in the near future?
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To get to the bottom of this, ENGINEERING.com invited a series of CAE vendors and thought leaders to discuss what they expect to see from their organizations and the industry going forward. Let’s mesh this crystal ball, shall we? Simulation Industry Overview. So, let’s cut to the chase.
How will the CAE world fare overall in 2018? According to Joe Walsh, CEO of intrinSIM and industry thought leader, we should expect to see steady growth of about 8.5 percent based on research by the Cambashi CAE Observatory. “However, behind this steady growth there is significant activity on multiple fronts that indicate that 2018 will be a transition year to enable higher growth rates in the future,” said Walsh. “The growth is also not even across all aspects,” Walsh added. “The Design Space Exploration (DSE) segment of this market, for instance, is expected to grow by 10 percent based on joint research by Ora Research and intrinSIM.” Mark Hindsbo, vice president of ANSYS, has more optimistic numbers. He suggests that simulation usage will double in the next year. According to Hindsbo, “This doubling will involve consumption of more of the classic simulation as we know it today, along with the release of new solutions that will enable every engineer to use simulation.
Simulation will also expand from its traditional realm of product design into manufacturing and operations.” Though these numbers from Hindsbo and Walsh are vastly different, they both point upward. So, users should expect to see their ranks improve in the next few months. Now what will happen to all of this growth in sales? Brad Holtz, president and CEO of Cyon Research, suggests that much of the money made in the industry will be moving toward research. This is in line with Walsh’s belief that vendors will be experiencing a transitional year. Pumping funds into research—be it academic or internal—reflects an investment strategy to improve user numbers in the future.
Holtz suggests that much of this research will be used to determine how to marry machine learning with simulation. The idea will be to reduce the simulation computations and improve the user experience in ways that allow newer users to pick up the software faster. By having a system learn what to expect from results based on thousands of previous runs of various loading conditions, we can teach simulation software to point our designs in the right direction more quickly and easily. “The machine learning might get to the point where the system will make recommendations,” suggested Holtz. “We are a very long way from that, but at, we'll discuss how to bring that about.” The added benefit to this research is that it might spark some added CAE education within colleges and universities.
This should be a continual goal as simulation expertise doesn’t exactly grow on high performance computers (HPCs). Expanding Simulation with New Technology, Apps and Democratization Tools.
Simulation users inspecting a simulation using augmented reality (AR). Democratization tools like AR will spread the use of CAE. The industry is aiming to make simulation more pervasive. To do that, you must first make simulation usable by nonexperts and ensure that there is a steady supply of experts to verify the works of others. “In the short term, Autodesk believes that the use of simulation technologies will become increasingly engrained into the DNA of mainstream engineering,” said Vikram Vedantham, senior business manager at Autodesk Inc.