Big data and advanced materials have been identified as two of the Eight Great Technologies highlighted by David Willetts MP. Combining these technologies, last year I wrote an article entitled “Engineering components that last…” which describes the use of computer models to predict the material behaviour, allowing the lives of critical components such as those in gas turbine aero-engines to be accurately evaluated.
Building on this, a good understanding of material behaviour and computational modelling can be used throughout the design process of innovative products. Early in the design of a product the specifications are not fixed and design changes can be readily accommodated. Using computer simulations at this stage allows radically different designs to be assessed, a process that can be sped up by using high performance computing (HPC). Using HPC, large computational problems can be solved quickly by splitting the models into many regions (domains) each being solved on individual CPUs. This allows design changes to complex structures such as car bodies to be evaluated prior to manufacture.
Using simulation driven design, computer simulations are incorporated into all aspects of the design process, allowing more design iterations to be assessed while reducing the number of actual physical prototypes required allowing better products to be designed faster at a lower cost.