Creation Process Sped Up by New Software

The new approach integrates the design and analysis processes, which are now carried out separately. Currently, the geometry of a part is first created using computer-aided design, or CAD, software. This geometry is then converted into a mesh of simple shapes, such as triangles or rectangles, which, when analysed using a computer, indicates the part's strength and other characteristics. The painstaking procedure, called finite-element analysis, is extensively used in industry.

"It's like taking a continuous curve and breaking it into pieces," said Ganesh Subbarayan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue. "Otherwise, the form is too complex to analyse." After the finite-element model of the part is created, the part is analysed to see how well it will perform. If a portion of the shape is found to need redesigning, the part's entire mesh must be recreated to reflect the change.

"After the designer designs the object, it is thrown over to the analyst, and the analyst says, 'OK, I think, based on my analysis, that your design has to be modified this way,' and then throws it back to the designer, who makes the modification," Subbarayan said. "That is not very integrated and not very efficient, and that's the reason these problems take so much time and computational power to solve.”

The researchers are trying to speed up this process to make it more efficient by rethinking the way analysis is carried out. Instead of waiting until the end of the CAD process to do the analysis, they are trying to unify both the CAD design and analysis so that they are carried out concurrently.; Source: Purdue University