23 September 2004
23 September 2004
Vistagy Inc. has disclosed plans to release version 5.0 of its FiberSIM software.
The software allows engineers working with computer-aided-design (CAD) systems to design products made of strong, lightweight, composite materials. FiberSIM 5.0 features an all new Advanced Composite Engineering Environment that automates many of the repetitive design, simulation, and manufacturing tasks peculiar to working with composites, thus reducing design and manufacturing times and costs while improving part quality.
“Every year we have added new capabilities and functionalities to FiberSIM based on our customers’ needs,” says Steven C. Luby, president and CEO of VISTAGY. “But FiberSIM 5.0 is an extremely significant advance over previous versions. The features of 5.0 represent a landmark shift in the ways that engineers can apply software to design and manufacture composite parts.”
Engineers who work with composite materials often create parts with hundreds of plies. Defining each ply requires complex materials data and lay-up specifications. Traditionally, this information is all entered manually, which is a time-consuming and error-prone task. The new automation tools in FiberSIM 5.0 reduce the potential for error and, by speeding the design process, leave engineers free to focus their expertise on design innovation, process selection, and part quality.
There are four main categories of new functionality in FiberSIM 5.0:
Zone based design for defining laminate specifications and requirements. In practice, engineers often design composite parts by analyzing the part and breaking it down into regions with the same structural properties. These regions are referred to as zones. FiberSIM 5.0 now supports this preliminary part design phase by providing users with flexible ways to quickly create zones and material specifications that define the requirements of the part within the 3D CAD model. FiberSIM supports the notions of tiled and overlay zones, and allows specification of hybrid materials to accommodate composite part design. Once the requirements for the zones have been defined, plies can be automatically generated. The plies take on the characteristics of their zones, such as boundary, material, and orientation, resulting in significant time-savings over the manual method of defining laminates.
Dynamically generating zone transitions and ply boundaries. FiberSIM 5.0’s tools for preliminary design include the ability to specify how ply boundaries are to be dropped-off or staggered from one zone into another. Users can control the ply offset profile to create complex transitions between zones. FiberSIM dynamically generates virtual ply boundaries that are associated with the zone transition information and the ply sequence. FiberSIM no longer requires the creation of ply boundary geometry in the CAD model. This approach allows users to quickly and accurately define zone-based laminates and greatly increases the ability to modify ply sequences within the laminate by automatically recomputing ply boundaries based on the transition specification. Manual redefinition of all the ply boundary geometry is no longer required, resulting in significant time-savings over previous methods.
Generating variable offset surfaces. One of the advantages of designing with composites is that plies of material can be placed precisely where they are needed. To minimize overall part weight, only the portion of a part that must withstand the most stress can be designed to be thicker, thus stronger, than other portions. The resulting surface created by the built-up plies varies in thickness. Tasks that require accurate representation of these surfaces, such as creating mock-up solids and inner mould lines, were previously done manually. VISTAGY’s unique new Variable Surface Offset Technology generates variable offset surfaces for plies in the CAD model. Engineers using this technology can automatically account for manufacturing tolerances and ply thicknesses when generating mock-up surfaces for interference checking, mating surfaces that model where two parts join together, and tooling surfaces for manufacturing.
Smart darting and splicing. In previous versions of FiberSIM, the engineer needed to define each dart and splice in a ply manually, though there was some automation involved. Inserting a new ply meant redefining all the staggered darts and splices in the sequence after it by hand. In FiberSIM 5.0, the engineer defines the darts and splices in the first ply, then defines the rules by which darts and splices are staggered. The software then populates subsequent plies with the appropriate darts and splices, staggered to specification. The smart darting and splicing tools automatically update the staggering if an additional ply is inserted into the laminate, greatly simplifying redesign and saving engineering time.
General availability is scheduled for the middle of the fourth quarter of this year.