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Holistic engineering as a field of research: simulation promotes an efficient product development process

Holistic engineering

Simulation promotes an efficient product development process

A broad range of processes is worked out by means of simulation with high-performance computers. These processes may include, for example, flow in a valve or stressing of a mechanical component. The function of a product can thus be predicted before the first prototype is manufactured. In the meantime, it’s possible to simulate most physical phenomena. We use a correspondingly broad range of simulation methods.

Simulation at Festo

Using modern processes efficiently has a long tradition with us. It all got started back in 1983 when computer technology was still in its infancy. In the meantime, simulation has become an integral part of practically all research and development processes. The processes are developing rapidly and require a scientific operating method.

Simulations are often time-consuming. Efficient hardware and software is important as a result. Extensive calculations take many characteristics into consideration, and are based on a great deal of information and complex, interactive structures. That is why they’re outsourced to a powerful computer cluster. We work on a wide range of applications with programs from reputable manufacturers.

Component strength and deformation

Components which are exposed to loads become deformed. Some components, such as rubber sealing rings, deform to a greater extent than aluminum covers for cylinders, for example. The finite element method, abbreviated FEM, is used in order to calculate this deformation. Our simulation specialists from the research department support the development department with:

  • Mechanisms and systems
  • Electronics, magnetics, piezo technology
  • Software and models

Flow and heat exchange

In pneumatics and process automation, flow in the components determines function to a great extent. Flow rate, pressure loss, flow forces and degree of efficiency are simulated using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). This method is also used in aircraft and automobile manufacturing.

There are a variety of challenges where flow simulation is concerned:

  • In pneumatics, flow often reaches supersonic speeds over narrow cross-sections, thus limiting the flow rate. Simulation provides points of departure for optimization in these cases.
  • Where the flow of liquids in process automation is concerned, cavitation, i.e. the occurrence of vapor bubbles, is a challenge that has to be dealt with.
  • In combination with the component cooling system, flow plays an important role for electronic components.

Injection molding and die casting

In plastic injection molding and aluminum die casting processes, hot liquid material is pressed into a steel mold where it cools down and solidifies. Complicated shapes can be produced cost-effectively in this way.

Molten plastic is very viscous. Molten aluminum, on the other hand, is of low viscosity, thus resulting in turbulent flow which might cause air to get swirled into the material. This results in unwanted cavities which reduce stability.

With the help of simulation, we can predict whether or not the mold will be well filled, the component will be deformed and where trapped air will occur. Then we can adjust the component, the tool and the processing parameters so that undesirable effects are minimized or prevented.

Software and CAE models

  • Non-linear FEM / structural mechanics: Abaqus/Standard and Abaqus/Explicit
  • Endurance analysis: FEMFAT
  • FEM for microsystem technology: ANSYS Multiphysics
  • FEM for electrodynamics: ANSYS Maxwell
  • CFD / flow mechanics: ANSYS CFX and and StarCCM+
  • CFD / electronics cooling: FloTherm
  • Injection molding simulation: Moldex3D, Moldex eDesign
  • Die casting simulation: Flow3D

System simulation

How fast can an object be moved from A to B using pneumatic or electric drive technology? Which Festo components are suitable for this process and which settings are required? Which cycle times can be achieved?

Simulating the dynamic performance of linear and rotational drive systems, as well as mechanisms and custom handling systems, is helpful in answering these questions.

All of the kinematic and dynamic variables such as position, speed, acceleration, pressure, force, torque and flow rate are calculated during this process. Festo makes use of its in-house simulation software to this end, which contains verified models of all relevant catalog products from Festo.

Mechanisms and handling systems can also be laid out by combining this with commercially available multi-body simulation software.

In addition to dimensioning customer-specific applications, we also use these tools for dynamic analysis of our innovations and for the further development of our products, in order to support the efforts of our product developers and design engineers.

System simulation software and models

  • MKS / multi-body dynamics:
  • Pneumatic-mechanical and electromechanical drive systems: CACOS (developed in-house by Festo)
  • Simulation of physical, technical systems and controller development: Matlab/Simulink