Autodesk’s Nastran In-CAD software is one of the foremost Finite Element Analysis (FEA) tools for manufacturers to simulate their designs, offering a range of features to maximise your manufacturing process. It is embedded within Autodesk Inventor as Nastran in-CAD helping Inventor to be a complete design process package.
Nastran In-CAD is just one of the excellent set of simulation products for manufacturing offered by Autodesk. There is also Simulation Mechanical, which features the Nastran FEA solver software, and which allows the user to quickly carry out modelling tasks. And coming soon is the Fusion Cloud solve option, which will for once and for all spare your computer the heavy rendering calculation work needed to analyse designs reliably.
Although Autodesk is improving the product all of the time, they are building upon an already well-established piece of software. In fact, the Nastran solver was first designed by NASA to improve their cutting edge aerospace manufacturing in the 1960s. It has been used as part of several products, and in 2014 Autodesk acquired NEI Nastran, taking on the company’s Executive Vice-President Mitch Muncy as Product Manager.
The Autodesk Nastran solver is a proven FEA technology, which frequently has its accuracy tested by NAFEMS standards.
In order to generate results, the model must be replicated using a mesh. The mesh puts together a series of small elements, which are linked by nodes. Nastran In-CAD gives the user a range of mesh settings, so they can ensure that they are putting a high quality replication into the solver.
The results take into account a number of different criterion. Frequency response is accounted for, as the structural harmonic response can be determined using varying loads. Impact analysis is another criteria; this includes design issues such as deformations and contact to analyse the design. Other modes can warn about the dangers of loading or vibration, so Nastran In-CAD should prevent any nasty surprises after manufacturing.
Within the results, there is the choice between looking at linear or nonlinear static analyses. Linear static analysis is the better option where there is little chance of major issues, as a time-saving option. However, the Nastran solver is more than capable of dealing with nonlinear issues, where there are large displacements or heavy loads.
The solver can also calculate heat effects on the model. Conduction and convection principles can be applied to predict temperature shifts and downstream effects. These results are very helpful for those using engines in their designs, but can apply to other industries which use machine assembly.
There are multiple tests that can be placed upon your model. Transient responses help determine the success or otherwise of the product when given either a constant pressure, or time-dependent forces. There is also random response, which imposes random loads onto the design to simulate a wide range of conditions.
This simulation capability is delivered as part of Autodesk Inventor. The combination between the two allows the user to get the best of both products at one time, with the state of the art design features of Inventor allowing them to perfect their model, and the Nastran solver going beyond the capabilities of Inventor’s linear static studies.
An example of successful integration can be seen by looking at Mento Services, a company in Norway which manufactures custom products for the oil industry. They use Inventor with Nastran In-CAD, and their Engineering Manager, Bjorn Tore Ekerhovd, talking to Autodesk, has said that using Nastran ‘fell into our digital prototyping philosophy’, and that ‘Inventor CAD integration makes it easier to make design changes.’
Autodesk also produce Simulation Mechanical, where the Nastran solver is combined with Mechanical Event Simulation (MES), multiphysics simulations and other tools to form a versatile mix of software. The advanced multiphysics part of the package makes this the ideal simulation option for those involved with advanced scientific projects.
In fantastic news for manufacturing and design businesses, Nastran In-CAD is now part of the Autodesk Product Design Collection, which means that you can use it in workflows alongside other great products, such as Inventor and Fusion 360.
Nastran In-CAD offers a top of the range solver, and in combination with Autodesk Inventor it provides a comprehensive product design solution.
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