How Does Engineering Simulation Software Model Complex Physical Phenomena?

Find out how engineering simulation software utilizes the Finite Element Method, meshing, and matrix solutions to model complex physical phenomena.

How Does Engineering Simulation Software Model Complex Physical Phenomena?
Photo by National Cancer Institute / Unsplash

Have you ever wondered how computer simulations are used to model complex real-world phenomena like the shrinkage of a 3D object upon cooling?

In this article, we'll delve into the inner workings of engineering simulation software, such as ANSYS, and explore the intricate processes that drive its functionality.

Finite Element Method (FEM) and Meshing

Engineering simulation software employs the Finite Element Method (FEM) to break down a complex object or system into numerous small elements.

This process, known as meshing, involves subdividing the object into tiny geometric shapes, enabling the software to represent its behavior and response to various conditions at a granular level.

Equations and Matrix Solutions

Once the object has been discretized into smaller elements, the software formulates equations to describe the physical behavior of each element.

These equations account for factors such as material properties, thermal effects, and boundary conditions.

Subsequently, the software assembles these equations into a system of linear equations, which are then solved simultaneously using matrix solution techniques.

Integration of Boundary Conditions and Loads

A crucial aspect of engineering simulation software is the integration of boundary conditions and loads.

Boundary conditions, which define the constraints or fixing points in a system, are incorporated into the simulation model.

Additionally, various loads, such as forces, pressures, and temperatures, are applied to the model to simulate real-world scenarios and study the object's response under different conditions.

Iterative Solution Procedure

Upon the completion of the initial simulation, the software undergoes an iterative solution procedure, refining the results and converging towards an accurate solution.

This iterative process involves adjusting the model's parameters based on the feedback obtained from each iteration, ultimately honing in on a solution that best represents the real-world behavior of the system or object being simulated.

Post-Processing and Visualization

After the simulation computations are concluded, the software facilitates post-processing and visualization of the results.

Engineers can analyze the obtained data, visualize stress distributions, deformations, and other key parameters, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of the system's behavior under different conditions.

Advancing Engineering Capabilities

The utilization of engineering simulation software not only facilitates the analysis of complex physical phenomena but also enhances engineering capabilities by enabling the exploration of design alternatives, optimization of components, and prediction of system performance.

As technology continues to evolve, the integration of simulation software into engineering practices is poised to drive innovation and progress across diverse industrial sectors.