Industry Case Study: Electronics & Semiconductor

Brunner Elektronik

From CAD screen straight to the cockpit.

Control and drive system specialist

Brunner Elektronik’s day-to-day challenge is to perfectly combine mechanical and electrical components into comprehensive solutions. Its customers’ high design standards challenge the processes used throughout product development, driving Brunner to achieve optimal results in visual design, functionality assessment and thermal simulation. Thanks to Solid Edge® software from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens PLM Software, Brunner can develop products quickly and efficiently.

For 47 years, Brunner Elektronik has been producing custom control and drive systems, sophisticated assemblies and complex integrated solutions. Located at Hittnau, near Zürich, Switzerland, the company is renowned for its deep expertise in power electronics and mechatronic systems.

Brunner primarily designs and manufactures to individual specifications, mainly for customers in the machinery, medical and simulation technology industries. To serve these customers, the company runs a complete mechanical production shop with state-of-the-art computer numerical control (CNC) milling and turning machines, as well as everything needed to design, engineer and manufacture mechanical parts.

Using Solid Edge computer-aided design (CAD) software, Brunner engineers can optimize their designs in minute detail prior to production, and perform simulations using digital prototypes. Brunner Elektronik is currently using Solid Edge with the Insight™ design data management solution. “These capabilities enable us to improve product quality and fulfill our customers’ requirements faster,” says Robert Brunner, founder and owner, Brunner Elektronik. The company has been using Solid Edge with great success for 10 years.

Intuitive operation, superior productivity

Brunner is an electronics engineer with passion. He puts all his faith in Solid Edge, having acquainted himself with the software more than 10 years ago, and has used it for increasingly complex customer projects.

His son, Thomas Brunner, is head of the company’s mechanical department. He and his colleagues work with Solid Edge to design housings and printed circuit boards (PCBs). “What I particularly like about Solid Edge is its intuitive usability,” Thomas Brunner says.

“I was able to use the software for production work after a very short time. Having worked with a well-known competing product for testing purposes, I must say that by comparison, Solid Edge has fully convinced me. It has a good, comprehensible structure and design, which is a great plus.”

Accelerated development cycles and fast reaction to changes from customers require Brunner Elektronik to work with great efficiency to reduce costs. By optimizing the implementation of customer requirements within predefined, tight schedules, Brunner and his team can bring new products to market well ahead of competitors. The company can generally act with greater flexibility, which helps it compete in fiercely competitive international markets.

From complex mechatronic assemblies, all the way to documentation

At Brunner Elektronik, Solid Edge is used not only for mechanical design but also for electrical and electronic design tasks.

Mechatronic designs require the integration of electronic components, and limited space frequently poses quite a challenge for the design engineers and in production. The software also includes useful tools for finding optimal, technically mature solutions in heat sink design. “We use Solid Edge for electronic components a lot,” says Thomas Brunner.

“There, multibody simulation capabilities of the software are important to us. Using simulation, we can trace movements to see immediately whether parts collide or get stuck. It takes the most current CAD technology to facilitate virtual design. Solid Edge is perfectly suited for this.”

With the broad range of Solid Edge functions for part modeling, exploded views, photorealistic rendering and frame design, and with add-on capabilities for simulation, cable harness design, injection mold design and additional assembly applications, Brunner Elektronik can quickly produce product videos for customers. Particularly for smaller businesses, this capability opens doors not only across design, engineering and production operations, but also for marketing purposes.

For Thomas Brunner, these are distinct competitive advantages that he had the opportunity to test and fully exploit in completing another recent project: the core component of a flight simulator. He explains, “In the computer simulation, you can see all movements of the entire platform in detail. This is quite a thrill ‒ also, of course, for our customers.

We can also use Solid Edge in the creation of all the documentation. The renderings are so realistic we effectively do not need to have photos made anymore.” Eliminating the need for photographs also means significant cost savings.

The Brunner Elektronik design office is frequently met with requests from domestic and international aerospace customers, for which the motion simulation, collision detection and structural strength calculations of Solid Edge are particularly useful.

For the design department, working with Solid Edge helps realize significant overall design time reduction. The software also serves an important role in fulfilling the rigid traceability requirements for product certifications.

Furthermore, the automatic collision detection and comprehensive integration of interfaces to other processes are vitally important and extremely practical in prototyping. At the touch of a button, all component data is transferred to the central system, where all settings for the milling machine are generated automatically. “By comparison with when we created drawings manually, this alone saves a significant amount of time,” Thomas Brunner says.

He adds, “What I like most about Solid Edge is its superior usability.”

Challenges

  • Develop and produce products more efficiently
  • Transition to 3D CAD/CAM system
  • Simplify processes, from design to prototyping and production
  • Fulfill customer requirements

Keys To Success

  • Simulation with digital prototypes
  • Design agility and flexibility
  • Data consistency and interfaces to CAM
  • Collaboration across various development departments

Results

  • Significant time savings
  • Simplified processes
  • Minimized risk
  • Cost reduction with good cost-benefit ratio
  • Faster time-to-market
  • Workload reduction

 

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Download The PDF Here

Design freedom and production reliability

Designing freeform geometries that optimally balance requirements for ergonomics, electronics, and injection molding processes can take small businesses to their limits. These challenges make service providers such as Brunner Elektronik, with its specialized expertise, an important partner.

A recent example project is an aircraft control stick, designed and engineered with Solid Edge, from start to finish, by Robert Brunner. Thomas Brunner had initially tried various other software products, concluding that there were other software packages that could easily do the modeling, but the resulting data could not be used by the plastics specialist. The company then adopted Solid Edge.

With comprehensive support from Robin Vornholt, senior consultant at bytics AG, a Siemens PLM Software channel partner and systems integrator based at nearby Volketswil, the entire Brunner Elektronik design team successfully entered the 3D world of Solid Edge. The individual training provided by bytics laid the foundation for the company to become proficient with the operation of the system and its many modules and add-ons, and to exploit its high-value functionality.

Brunner Elektronik also worked with bytics to implement the Solid Edge with Insight document management system. “We are quite satisfied with it,” says Thomas Brunner. “It has been working flawlessly for years now. We have been talking to the same bytics people from the start. It is important to us that the support engineers are familiar with our system and that there is always someone there for us. We are absolutely happy with their support.”

The first series of the control stick and the associated control unit was produced and delivered, and a second batch is already in stock at Hittnau. For Robert Brunner, it is quite clear that training is crucial to success. “Training should, in no event, be omitted,” he says. “The software has a lot to offer, much of which would go undiscovered without training.”

Thanks to the sophisticated, yet easy-to-use, freeform design capabilities of Solid Edge, Brunner Elektronik now receives growing numbers of queries from the aerospace industry for extraordinarily complex assemblies such as joysticks. “Because we can implement individual customer requirements with great flexibility, we are in an even better starting position,” notes Thomas Brunner.

A notable edge: synchronous technology

Customer requirements have changed a great deal since Brunner Elektronik was founded. The solutions have evolved from single components and devices to comprehensive control solutions. “Today, customers want comprehensive turnkey solutions from a single source – without any interface issues,” Thomas Brunner explains. “This presents manufacturers like Brunner Elektronik with new challenges. We are constantly looking for new and optimal tools, and Solid Edge ideally supports this search. It gives us the ability to react to customer requirements fast and with great flexibility. Time-to-market is a critical factor as well. Additional processes such as rapid prototyping and 3D modeling help us find and implement final solutions quickly.” These capabilities enable the company to create products without costly and time-consuming prototyping and metalworking processes, and to begin effective production with the first piece.

Brunner Elektronik also values the direct modeling capabilities made possible by the synchronous technology capability of Solid Edge. “We have a large customer who is using another well-known CAD software product,” says Robert Brunner. “Thanks to synchronous technology, modifications to their designs and building new models work absolutely flawlessly, and so does data exchange with third-party software in general.”

Mastering challenges, crossing frontiers

Another challenge mastered by Thomas Brunner and his team is the interaction between internal computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and CNC, Microsoft’s Excel® spreadsheet software and Solid Edge with Insight. Intense cooperation within engineering fosters quality and eliminates errors. “Possible data errors are identified and possible interface problems can be resolved immediately, allowing us to cross frontiers,” says Thomas Brunner. “In the future, distances will also lose their relevance, since work can be done using the same system with the same image, which facilitates much faster action.” Brunner also emphasizes the importance of interfaces to downstream processes: “Interface functionalities to subsequent processes can be implemented error-free, and this also minimizes the risk for our company.”

High-performance solution with a good cost-benefit ratio

“Interaction with customers and suppliers can be greatly improved, risks can be limited or eliminated at an early stage and our time-to-market is much shorter,” says Thomas Brunner. “With Solid Edge, we have acquired a high-performance solution with a very favorable cost-benefit ratio that substantially relieves and supports us in our daily work.”

Brunner Elektronik perceives other distinct benefits. Solid Edge makes it possible to use visualization to point out critical issues to customers in the virtual design stage, to pace the project with them, and to discuss issues. “For us, paperless documentation is of the essence,” says Robert Brunner. “We have more or less everything screen-based. I am at a loss trying to imagine how I worked with 2D drawings not so long ago. This was and is a great achievement in more than one respect.”

After using Solid Edge for 10 years, Thomas Brunner is also thoroughly convinced: “This software is stable and we are totally satisfied. “We can implement virtually everything in-house. Customers benefit directly from this flexibility, and the consequential cost savings represent represents another great benefit for Brunner Elektronik.”

Learn more about EDGE plm software:

EDGE plm software is a privately owned Australian provider of software solutions aimed at the Engineering and Manufacturing sectors. EDGE has been providing engineering design centric solutions since 2004 with over 500 customers across Australia and New Zealand. Typical solutions from EDGE would include the provision of software, maintenance, support, consulting and training services.

The EDGE software portfolio includes CAD, CAM, FEA & PDM solutions and EDGE fully supports and offers training and mentoring services on its entire portfolio. EDGE has been a business partner of UGS/Siemens since 2004. EDGE also configures and sells Dell hardware to assist our customers maximise their software investments. Read more about us…

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Join Our Solid Edge ST8 Training Courses:

EDGE plm understands the importance and training to the successful adoption of our products. However no two companies are the same and their training requirements often require a different or tailored approach which is why we have developed our flexible approach to training and mentoring.

We offer scheduled classroom-style training, bespoke training to suit customer requirements as well as one to one mentoring for any of our customers around Australia and New Zealand. Our Solid Edge training courses are created with the aim to get participants up to speed with current industry software quickly and effectively, giving you and your company the competitive edge.

Our experienced and qualified instructors run a range of training courses designed to suit your exact requirements, whether this consists of scheduled classroom training at our offices, customised courses delivered at your site, or online sessions.

Please call us on 1300 883 653 or send us an email [email protected] for our latest training schedule or to enquire about specialised training and mentoring services.

Solid Edge Foundation Part 1

This course is the follow on from the initial foundation course. It covers a foundation review, providing an opportunity to revisit and answer any questions from the initial course. It covers Drafting in [...]

Solid Edge Foundation Part 2

This course is the follow on from the initial foundation course. It covers a foundation review, providing an opportunity to revisit and answer any questions from the initial course. It covers Drafting in far [...]

Solid Edge Sheet Metal & Framing

The course focuses on sheet metal design tools, from the creation of simple sheet metal folded parts to the adding of deformation features and the subsequent creation of flat pattern blanks and 2D drawings. [...]

Solid Edge Surfacing

Delegates attending this course must have completed the foundation course or have been using Solid Edge for a minimum of 3 months. This course offers an introduction to the concepts of surface modelling, particularly [...]

Solid Edge Advanced Assembly

This course is designed for users that wish to improve their overall Assembly knowledge and students will be given instruction on how to make full use of the advanced assembly modelling functions for both [...]

Solid Edge Advanced Part Modelling

The course aims to improve the productivity of users when designing with Solid Edge. It includes a knowledge assessment test and sessions aimed at the correct approach to advanced modelling techniques for parts and [...]

Femap 101 Training Course

Talk to us to find more details and the next available course. This course designed to improve the productivity of users when designing with Femap. It includes a knowledge assessment test and sessions aimed at [...]

Read the latest news from our blog:

Why focusing on ICE thermal management to reach emission regulation targets?

“The European automotive industry invests more than €50 billion in R&D annually, a large percentage of which goes towards fuel-efficiency technologies, to meet EU CO2 emission reduction targets thereby complying with NOx and soot standards. However, very few are likely to be able to change the makeup of their fleets fast enough to meet the immediate challenge of the 2021 EU CO₂ emission reduction targets and avoid the significant fines for missing them.” Source: The CO₂ emissions challenge: some carmakers are running late in the race to 2021 -  PA Consulting reportCO2_emissions_reduction_status_vs_targets.jpgCO₂ emission reduction over time against 2017 actual data and 2021 targets

Consequently, to achieve future regulations OEMs and suppliers must innovate in their conventional powertrain design and at the same time come up with competitive alternative propulsion systems as soon as possible. Nevertheless, innovation in conventional powertrains in many instances implies an increase of technology complexity while alternative technologies imply an immediate need of removing uncertainty through rapid system development. Either way, ideally, what OEMs and suppliers would need is to equip themselves with the best engineering tools to accelerate the transformation.  That’s a challenge we at Siemens PLM Software accept: we provide a set of simulation solutions to make virtual design and evaluation of new innovative real.

 

One of the specific innovation areas where OEMs and suppliers can focus on is the thermal management of the internal engine combustion system. Optimizing thermal management of an aftertreatment systems is really a challenge. Indeed, for maximum efficiency (and so satisfying emission rate) aftertreatment systems such as catalysts require specific temperatures to operate efficiently. Using CFD simulation is a way to do a detailed thermal analysis and assess the best powertrain architecture.Engine thermal management analysis using Simcenter Star-CCM+.pngEngine thermal management analysis using Simcenter Star-CCM+

In the on-demand webinar “Optimizing thermal management in modern powertrains using CFD simulation”, Carlo Locci – simulation powertrain application specialist – showcases how using our CFD simulation tool Simcenter STAR-CCM+ can support the thermal management modeling of your engine, and introduces:

  • An innovative technique to predict the thermal interaction between the fluid film and the wall in an SCR. This technique was developed to allow for long transient runs in a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR),
  • The most recent developments in this field of Conjugate Heat Transfer (CHT) related to Powertrain problems,
  • Perspectives on heat production modeling for fuel cells.

If you are eager to know more about our whole Simcenter portfolio for powertrain applications, Warren Seeley Simcenter Director of Powertrain gives an overview in the introduction of this online presence.

Register here to access the online webinar: Optimizing thermal management in modern powertrains using CFD simulation 

 

More information on our website:

Engineer innovation with CFD- focused Multiphysics simulation webpage

STAR-CCM+ v12.04: Two mouse clicks? Hold that thought!

Please note: Original publication date 06-29-2017 

 

Just one numerical simulation contains a wealth of information – we can gain a lot of insight on how a device performs, and from that, we can infer how to make that device better. To confidently recommend one design over another, though, we’ll need to run more than one simulation. As our device knowledge is informed through simulation, we can expect to make numerous geometry/part modifications to the original design. How quickly we can turn these changes around will determine how many simulations we can run within our time budget. Without a highly efficient and flexible workflow, we might find ourselves in the position of being less certain of our final product recommendation. Risky. Now, you’ll be hearing a lot soon about Design Manager, a native capability within STAR-CCM+ v12.04® to do design exploration – that’s not this story. Instead, I want to share how just two mouse clicks can now get you quickly from that first simulation to the next one, and to the one after that and the one after that...

 

First, some history. In STAR-CCM+ v9.04, we introduced logic based “Filters”. For example, you could create a Filter to return all the geometry parts that contain the name “chip”. Using your Filter to make your part selection in an Operation saves you the trouble of having to find and select all of these objects in the simulation tree manually. Faster. Less error-prone. Repeatable. Good.

 

But, if you were to then add another “chip” geometry part, you had to go back to your Operation, re-apply your Filter and update your selection. In other words, the part selection wasn’t dynamic. To address this, we delivered "Query-Based Selection" in STAR-CCM+ v10.06. Automatable. Better. But still limited in coverage to just Operations, Displayers and Derived parts. Why is this limiting? Because Regions were statically linked to parts, so if you added, modified or removed parts, you would need to update your part selection for your region manually.

 

This is now a thing of the past. In STAR-CCM+ v12.04 , we’ve extended Query-Based Selection to apply to Regions, Boundaries, Sub-Groups, Interfaces and Reports. Faster. Less error-prone. Repeatable. Automatable. Better still.

 

To show how this can help you, let’s consider the simulation of a packed bed reactor for dry reformation of methane to produce hydrogen gas. These reactors contain randomly packed solid catalyst particles which can be various shapes and sizes:

 

catalyst_particle_shapes_updated.pngExamples of catalyst particles used in packed bed reactors.

Our operating conditions may be fixed to a narrow range, so if we want to improve our reactor performance, the choice of particle size, shape and number is going to be critical. Let’s consider our workflow starting point to be a simulation (with the solution cleared) in which the physics continua (fluid and solid), regions, boundaries, interfaces, reports, scenes and displayers have already been set up. Lets say we want to replace an existing packed bed containing cylindrical shaped particles with seven wedge shaped holes in each (above at far left), with a new packed bed containing smaller tri-lobe shaped particles (above at far right). We’ve got four Query-Based Selections in play that we will use to assign…

 

  1. …any geometry part with a name containing “__particle” to a Unite operation (this was possible in previous versions).
  2. …the Geometry Part generated by the Unite Operation to the solid particle Region.
  3. …all Part Surfaces containing the name “__particle” to a Region Boundary defined in the fluid region and another defined in the solid Region (the same dynamic query is used for both regions).
  4. … all Part Surface Contacts (created when the Volume Extract Operation is run) to Interfaces.

two_click_workflow.pngUse four Query-Based Selections to automate your two mouse click workflow.

Now, with your .sim file set up this way, when you hit the Generate Volume Mesh button on the toolbar, our first of our two mouse clicks, the Mesh Operations pipeline is executed. What you end up with is a .sim file, meshed and ready to go – all Parts to Region assignments are automatically done. The second of our two mouse clicks, hitting the Run button, is almost anticlimactic in comparison. Your simulation starts running and any derived parts, reports and scene displayers that also use Query-Based Selection get automatically updated.

 

unrolled_view_mole_fraction_H2.pngA cylinder derived part (intersecting the packed bed near the reactor wall) is unrolled to compare hydrogen gas production rates between the two packed bed designs.

data_focus_filter_for_site_blockage.pngData Focus highlights areas of higher (in color) compared to lower (grey) catalyst site blockage.

To get the workflow down to two clicks did take some preparation and the methodology does rely on a part naming convention. When does it make sense to go through the extra steps?  If we want to examine just 3 different particle sizes for each particle shape pictured above, that’s 21 different random packed bed geometries; 21 .sim files that can be consistently set up and run; 21 sets of reports and plots and scenes that can be consistently compared in an automated fashion. And, if that isn’t enough of a reason, there are two great new features in STAR-CCM+ v12.04, Replace Assemblies and 3D-CAD Part Synchronization, that also leverage the benefits of Query-Based Selection. The bottom line is this: Some initial preparation to set up your simulation template is the logic based choice. 

The Digitalization of Industrial Machinery

Sparks.jpg

 

Providing realistic virtual simulation 

Throughout the computer-aided engineering (CAE) design process, engineers must balance a variety of critical performance aspects to validate whether the product under development will work as intended. This complex task cannot be based on a test-and-repair approach. Such an approach would lead to expensive iterations on physical hardware. Other unique projects require that the first prototype is the final product. Testing these kinds of products under extreme boundary conditions can have dramatic consequences. 

 

As a result, Siemens PLM Software solutions provides engineers with the necessary tools to conduct upfront analysis for a variety of applications during the design process. To be successful, machine manufacturers must use models to reproduce the complex behavior within the operational environment. Engineers require pinpoint accuracy to understand how structures work and expedite the analysis of new designs for potential modifications that optimize performance.

 

The right solution for any nonlinear application 

Computation of accurate dynamic loads in structural analysis often requires the consideration of nonlinear behaviors. Simcenter Samcef nonlinear motion analysis fully exploits the augmented Lagrangian method and the large-displacement-large-rotation approach to deliver this capability. The software features an extended library of flexible kinematic joints that can be included in FEA. By coupling these joints to super elements and beams, the complete kinematics and dynamics of the system can be simulated.

 

When combined with Simcenter Samcef nonlinear structural analysis, nonlinear and fully meshed components can be included to capture material and geometrical nonlinear structural behavior. Furthermore, Simcenter Samcef can be used to integrate sensors, actuators, and controllers in the simulation. These can be imported from Matlab®/ Simulink® and Simcenter Amesim™ software or preprogrammed in Simcenter Samcef. In that case, the control parameters can be optimized. Simcenter Samcef can also be coupled to Matlab and Simcenter Amesim for co-simulation. This co-simulation capability is done through a dedicated module that enables coupling between different transient solvers. This mechanism is used to connect Simcenter Samcef to the AMRC tool (a research center linked to the University of Sheffield) that provides the cutting forces of the machines.

 

Twin-Control Project 

Twin-Control is a European project (H2020, grant agreement nº 680725) aimed to develop new concepts for machine tools and machining process performance simulation. It is coordinated by IK4-TEKNIKER in Spain, with additional partners Renault, COMAU, MASA, Gepro Systems, ModuleWorks, Artis, Predict, TU Darmstadt, University of Sheffield and Samtech, a Siemens Company, in Liège, Belgium.  

 

In the Twin-Control project, Siemens focuses on the dynamic modeling of machine tools, including its Computer Numeric Control (CNC), and its interaction with the machining process. To properly simulate modern high-speed tools, which show close interactions between the dynamic behavior of the mechanical structure, drives, and the CNC, it is crucial to build models that represent the flexibility of all components and interactions. 

 

Simcenter Samcef Mecano enables accurate modeling of machines by considering FEA modeled components connected by a set of flexible kinematic joints. Models are implemented to deal with drive-trains and motor dynamics. To fully capture the dynamic behavior of the machine tool, force interactions between the cutting tool and the workpiece are also considered in the models. These forces consider the dynamics of the tooltip, combined with the tool work-piece engagement determined by Module Works CAD/CAM for toolpath generation and simulation.

 

As seen in figure 1, a model of the CNC is connected to the machine model by specialized elements that compute motor forces from controller inputs, calling a dynamic library embedding the Matlab Simulink model of this controller. 

 

Figure.pngFigure 1: Coupling scheme

To properly model the machine tools when operating, the following objectives are followed: 

  • Properly account for flexibility of all structural components, connections and feed drive to obtain a model that can represent interior vibrations. The guiding system is modeled by flexible slider elements, which constrain a node to move along a deformable trajectory represented by beam elements. 
  • Limit the number of degrees of freedom (DOF) as much as possible to use the model in the time domain (small time step imposed by the machining simulation module and the controller model). This is done by using a super-element technique. The model contains super-element techniques and can represent the desired levels of vibrations.

The proposed technology is applied to build a flexible multibody mechatronic model of a box-in-box fast machine of project partner COMAU, as seen in Figure 2. This approach provides comprehensive simulation capabilities for virtual machine prototyping in working conditions. 

 

Photo 2.pngFigure 2: A Multibody model of the COMAU machine tool. Courtesy of Comau.

Another example that illustrates this technology is the 5 axes machine from project partner Gepro Systems (shown in Figure 3).

Photo 3.pngFigure 3: A Multibody model of a five axes machine tool with multiple spindles. Courtesy Gepro Systems

An industrial CNC controls the motors of the axes to follow the desired trajectories with minimal error. In the model, all frames are fully flexible, as the rails and screw drivetrains, which are represented by a set of slider elements. The control loops are modeled in MATLAB/Simulink, translated into a dynamic library associated with specific control elements to manage the coupling between 1D models and flexible 3D models.

 

The resulting Twin-Control simulation package is dedicated to both machine tool builders for design activities and machine tool users looking to improve their processes. In both cases, this virtual model will avoid performing costly physical. Simcenter Samcef, coupled with the different modules from our partners, allows building this virtual model in the form of a fully flexible and nonlinear finite element based digital twin.

Blinded by the Obvious

We can all be blinded by the obvious. The number of Dilbert cartoons on the topic is great evidence for how often it happens to all of us.

 

AML-13641_3002297_mutable_color.gif

 

This has been on my mind lately because of a recent experience. About a year ago, my family finally had our kitchen renovated. When we first saw the house before buying it many years ago, I distinctly remember walking in and saying “well, we will need to renovate the kitchen.” But then time slips by and priorities shift. Soon the kitchen that so clearly needed renovating just became our kitchen. Our brains so quickly and easily plaster over the imperfections around us that those imperfections disappear from our perception.

 

On the last day in our old kitchen before renovations started, we took a picture of everyone crammed into the one corner that always seemed to be where everything in the kitchen was located. I found that picture the other day and was struck by what I saw. Was it really that small, that dingy? I found myself slightly embarrassed that we had happily hosted guests for so many years with a kitchen that looked like that!

 

This ability to tune things out that continually bombard us is often rather useful. Just think, that ability allowed me to happily live with a kitchen that desperately needed an update for many years. Imagine how draining it would be to wake up every day and have all the imperfections be as obvious as the day we first toured the home. However, there is also danger in not stopping to reevaluate. It’s possible to go on so long without reevaluation that our perception becomes entirely detached from reality.

 

As simulation engineers, we are especially at risk in this regard. One of the most important aspects of what we do is to determine what is important, what should be included into a model being developed and what can be neglected. Even worse, we must balance the amount of personal and computational effort required to capture a certain piece of physics. We may deem it important, but not so important that we are willing to invest in modeling the phenomenon.

 

One perfect example is the process that goes into designing and modeling a gas turbine such as those used for powering aircraft or generating electricity. These are massive machines that start with tens-of-rows of compressor blades working to create massive amounts of high-pressure air. That air is then mixed with fuel and ignited, producing gasses at even higher pressures and temperatures. All that work is done so that the high-pressure and temperature gasses can rotate turbine blades to extract mechanical energy. The gasses driving those turbine blades are so hot that cold air is pumped through complex internal passageways of the blades and out over their surface just to keep them from being damaged.

 

To simulate a system this complex, the level of physics appropriate for a model depends on how far along the design process we are. For example, when coming up with the right shape for those turbine blades so that they extract the most energy possible, those complex internal passages are usually not included. Conversely, when determining how to most efficiently cool those blades, it is necessary to include that complex internal detail. However, it’s not always so easy to decide what can safely be neglected.

 

Simcenter STAR-CCM+ is particularly strong for modeling complex cases. Modeling conjugate heat transfer, complex geometry, combustion chemistry and unsteady blade-passing effects are some of the common types of analysis done by our gas turbine simulation users.  A streamlined workflow gives unmatched ability to accurately mesh the most complex geometry features while enabling the simulation of complex physics such as combustion, conjugate heat transfer and unsteady flows.

 

Multi-timescale simulation capabilities are now available in Simcenter STAR-CCM+, making it a good time to stop and re-evaluate the tradeoffs being made in our gas turbine simulations. Mixing plane interfaces allow us to model just a single blade passage in each row, which keeps the computational cost down. However, these heavily cooled blades produce distinct cold wakes that wash over the next row of blades downstream.

 

 

Ignoring the impact of these localized, unsteady wakes on blade temperature prediction is common. Until now, many have decided that capturing that effect would require too high a computational cost and so mixing planes have become the standard. At one point, the decision was made to ignore blade-passing effects and deal with the decreased accuracy of the simulation. Now it is an assumption made so often that most are blind to it, not recognizing that there are other options available.

 

Simcenter STAR-CCM+ has been a pioneer in developing harmonic balance simulation capabilities for gas turbine engine simulation for many years. The harmonic balance method allows the unsteady blade-passing effects in the fluid to be modeled at a much lower computational cost than traditional time-domain unsteady simulation. The method takes advantage of the periodic nature of the unsteadiness in the fluid to formulate a much more efficient simulation method.

 

With Simcenter STAR-CCM+ 2019.1, it is now possible to use the harmonic balance solver on the fluid side to capture the unsteady blade-passing effects and the steady solver on the solid side, all within the same simulation. This decoupling of the fluid and solid timescales makes efficient use of computational resources while more accurately representing the physical system. With this time-scale decoupling, it is no longer necessary to assume that the flow-field is steady and to neglect the impact of localized wakes when performing conjugate heat transfer simulations.

 

Simcenter STAR-CCM+ will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible with simulation, tackling the most complex cases, and timescale decoupling is evidence of that progress.

 

In addition to taking on the most complex gas turbine simulation needs, a new initiative has begun for gas turbine simulation with Simcenter STAR-CCM+ that is focused on improving gas turbine simulation for all levels of complexity. Each phase of the design and simulation process have unique challenges. Early in the cycle, flow and thermal predictions must be extremely fast and reliable and provide automatic reporting on the performance of a candidate blade. Later additional geometric and physics complexities are added, and more blade-rows of the machine are simulated simultaneously. Late in the cycle, very large simulations are performed once the design is nearing maturity. Many new capabilities are being brought into Simcenter STAR-CCM+ to help address the unique challenges of gas turbine simulation at each of these design phases. Interaction with design tools, specialized meshing and gas turbine specific post-processing are all on the way. Additionally, with unrivaled abilities to simulate the complex, it will become much easier to mature a given model with additional details as a design progresses.

 

It’s an exciting time for gas turbine simulation. With so many new capabilities, it may be time to reevaluate assumptions and look for blind spots.

 

GasTurbineCHT.jpg

 

Testimonials

“Using Solid Edge with synchronous technology I can actually do many more iterations now that I wasn’t able to do before. And because of that, the cost of the product comes down. The weight of the product comes down. The performance goes up. The warranty is a lot longer. Quality loves it. We love it. The profit margin loves it.”
John Winter , Mechanical Engineering Manager, Bird Technologies
“Siemens’ synchronous solver overcomes the order dependencies that have plagued history-based CAD programs by solving for the explicit and inferred constraints at the same time. The synchronous solver doesn’t use a history tree, but rather holds user-defined constraints in groups associated with the surfaces to which they apply…Ultimately, though, I believe this to be a transformative technology – one that represents an important inflection point in the CAD industry. If you hear someone say ‘that’s nothing new,’ don’t believe them. Synchronous technology is a big deal.”
Evan Yares, CAD Industry Analyst
“Synchronous technology breaks through the architectural barrier inherent in a history-based modeling system,” “Depending on model complexity and how far back in the history that edit occurs, users will see dramatic performance gains. A 100 times speed improvement could be a conservative estimate.”
Dr. Ken Versprille, PLM Research Director, CPDA
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