Stuttgart-based start-up MESHPARTS GmbH's software and assembly kit enables ten-times faster and much simpler FE simulation of machine versions
The modelling of machines on the computer has previously involved a great deal of manual work. Stuttgart-based start-up MESHPARTS GmbH’s FE modelling software with direct interfaces to Ansys® and Abaqus® now promises solutions. A large model library enables single parts, for example, to be modified quickly and simply without remaking the entire assembly on the screen. It not only saves a lot of stress, but time and money as well. At the same time, new design options can be easily tested, including for weight reduction purposes.
The Development Agency for Lightweighting Baden-Württemberg presents this innovation in the October 2015 edition of its ThinKing. Leichtbau BW GmbH uses this label to showcase excellent lightweight technology products and services from Baden-Württemberg.
FE simulation is already in widespread use in the aerospace and automotive industries; the mechanical engineering sector, in contrast, is still struggling with this technology. “Calculating a large CAD assembly with conventional FE software has so far proven too inefficient for many users,” says MESHPARTS GmbH founder Alexandru Dadalau. “This is why the overwhelming majority of machine manufacturers do not use FE software at the development stage: it’s too expensive, too complex and still insufficiently conclusive.”
MESHPARTS’ new software will now consign this failing to the past. “Our software with integrated FE model kit was developed especially to model large finite element assemblies efficiently,” underlines Dadalau. An extensive parametric FE model library is available for frequently recurring FE models, such as the powertrain.
90 percent of all parts in a tooling machine are standardised
This model library is the centrepiece of the MESHPARTS software solution. Tooling machines or robots may be complex mechatronic systems, but consist to only one tenth of self-produced cast parts or welded constructions. More than 90 percent of all parts in a tooling machine are standardised purchased parts.
Dadalaus sees the library of frequently recurring FE as offering huge unused potential and has long wondered why this standardisation could not be transferred to the FE world. No sooner said than done. The outcome is software and a model library which offers a successful solution for the FE simulation of large assemblies with Ansys® and Abaqus®.
In the past the same FE models had to be modelled again manually - despite the huge similarities between them - even though only small changes needed to be made. In most cases, the data for standardised machine parts cannot be imported from CAD. Changing this situation was the rationale leading to the setting up of MESHPARTS. Dadalau was able to bring his many years of experience to bear. Before setting up his own business in 2013 he was research assistant and doctoral student at the Institute for Control Technology of Machine Tools and Production Equipment (ISW) at the University of Stuttgart.
Finished finite element models for the machine components with all the relevant simplifying rules and properties are ready in the library. This eliminates lengthy searches of catalogues, for example, or research into stiffness curves. Experience has shown that reusable FE models and component-oriented finite element modelling reduces modelling times by a factor of 10, and even more in the case of design changes. This means that it is now possible to simulate 20 different variations of a single machine in one day rather than over five days. This is a critical competitive advantage, particularly in view of lightweight technology or industry 4.0. The software is already being used by mechanical engineers such as Festo AG & Co. KG or Scherdel siment GmbH.
Simulation facilitates better design and reduced weight
The FE library can easily be expanded using Excel tables. Using a single APDL script with the Ansys programming language it is possible to automatically create hundreds or even thousands of FE models with different parameters. The robust networking technology of Ansys ensures that the automatically generated FE models always contain an optimum FE network.
Dadalau: “If you’ve got an extensive FE model library which contains all the variants of a product, there’s no need any more to model, you just need to configure. And – as we know from the CAD world – configuring is many times more efficient than modelling.” This allows for improved designs which in many cases also result in weight savings.
Engineers using the freely available FE model are usually able to work with the MESHPARTS software without the CAD interface in the concept development phase. This saves a surprising amount of time and is simple. “Experience has shown that, after brief instruction, users with no FE experience at all are able to use our software and components library to produce high-quality models of machine tools”, says Dadalau. The models are solved with either Ansys® or Abaqus®.
“Our FE models produce the first finite element model library in history,” stresses Dadalau. Over the next five years his startup aims to expand the component library to represent 90 percent of machine builders. Dadalau: “I’d like machines to be designed in a completely new way.”
About MESHPARTS GmbH
Meshparts is a spin-off of the Institute for Control Technology of Machine Tools and Production Equipment (ISW) of the University of Stuttgart. Founded in 2013, the Stuttgart-based company is the first on the market with a component-oriented finite element software solution and a finite element model library for the FE analysis of machines.