Virtual Product Development
Virtual Product Development (VPD) is an approach that takes a design at the earliest concept stage and fully evaluates design specifications and usage scenarios, and then uses this information to guide the development process. Across industries, VPD enables companies to leverage resources by optimizing product designs leading to improved performance, reduced need for real-world prototypes, verifiable quality improvements, and minimized operational problems and failures.
VPD continues to expand in its usefulness and application adding new efficiencies to product development processes. These efficiencies have become a key factor in an organization’s success in today’s marketplace.
VPD and Simulation Software
At the core of the VPD process is the capability to use simulation software to represent physical
environments and events in evaluating the operability of a product design. Simulation begins with
building a model of the product structure and generating a simulation of its operating environment. Then, using specialized simulation software called finite element analysis (FEA) codes, the simulation model is analyzed to determine how it responds to the imposed environment. This response is then measured against allowable limits, test data, and knowledge databases.
Finite element analysis codes use sophisticated structural analysis techniques to predict the response of a model. A simulation model submitted to an FEA code for evaluation must be broken into small units called finite elements. The code then applies fundamental engineering principles to calculate the response of the model. Finite element software codes can provide answers to a vast array of continuum mechanics problems. How much tension, compression, bending, twisting, or vibration does a product endure? How hot or cold does a structure get? Do the materials change over time as they become hotter, colder, or they deform?
Finite element technology predicts the behavior of even the most complex structures. As a designer or engineer, it is not necessary to have a detailed knowledge of the mathematics behind this technology. Instead, you must be able to define the engineering problem by building a simulation model that accurately represents the product design. This involves modeling the dimensions and parts of the product, specifying what the product is made of, and defining the environment in which the product operates.
Interfacing with CAD and Vertical Applications
For many organizations the VPD process must be tightly integrated with the CAD processes
implemented in the design stages. It is the product design data detailing dimensions, geometry, parts, and assemblies generated from a computer-aided design (CAD) process that are the building blocks for the simulation model.
VPD depends on CAD to define product design and in return CAD receives feedback from VPD verifying the quality of the product design. In some instances the simulation is required to be carried out within the CAD environment. MSC offers multiple options for interoperability between CAD and the VPD process.
Integration in the vertical application area further defines the value added benefits VPD. Products, like Patran, vertically integrate the processes of building, testing, and validating new product designs.