I have a twin! Well, I have a digital twin. You probably do too. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a digital twin, don’t fret—you’re not alone. In fact, this technology is relatively new and still developing.

The idea of creating virtual models to simulate real-life situations isn’t new. NASA uses digital twins to run simulations and test flights on airplanes before they’re actually flown by pilots in person or sent into space with astronauts aboard them (pretty cool right?). However, until now there hasn’t been much focus on how we could apply these same concepts outside the aerospace industry — until now that is…

The idea of a digital twin is simple to understand. A digital twin is a virtual model of a process, product, or service that can be used to:

    • Improve performance: Understand how a process works, and improve it.
    • Explore new ideas: Imagine what could happen in the future, and create it now.
    • Make better decisions: See what’s happening on the ground in real time, so you can make confident decisions for your business.
    • Reduce risk: Identify potential problems before they occur and fix them before they cause issues for customers or colleagues.
    • Improve efficiency: Maximize resources to get more out of them than would be possible otherwise – whether that’s staff time, materials or energy consumption – by turning data into insights for everyone involved in a system (including those who aren’t currently involved).

     

Digital twins are used to run simulations using predictive analytics and data from sensors that are attached to airplanes and engines. These “test flights” for engines and airplanes allow for safe experimentation and troubleshooting without risking human life or harming the equipment. More recently however, the potential use cases for digital twins have expanded beyond industry.

NASA’s journey with the digital twin

NASA’s Advanced Turbine Systems Project (ATSP) has created a digital twin of their Pratt & Whitney PW1000G geared turbofan engine used in aviation systems like Boeing’s 737 MAX series aircrafts. This makes it possible for engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio to monitor real world conditions on an airplane remotely via computer software without having any physical connection between themselves and the airplane itself – all from their office desktops!

Digital twins aren’t limited just to planes though – they can be applied anywhere where there is an application that would benefit from being able to predict future outcomes based off current data gathered through sensors placed around said device/application/process etc…

Today, digital twins are being used in healthcare to help monitor a patient’s health in real time. Augmented Reality (AR), simulated environments, and virtual reality (VR) can all be used with the data provided by digital twins to improve patient outcomes. For instance, AR could be used by surgeons during an operation or VR can be used by physicians to practice risky procedures in a simulated environment before they operate on an actual patient.

The list of potential uses for a digital twin is seemingly endless, but one thing they all have in common is their ability to collect data. For example, an AR system could be used by surgeons to visualize a patient’s anatomy in real time and allow for better planning of surgical procedures.

Virtual reality (VR) can be used by physicians to practice risky procedures in a simulated environment before they operate on an actual patient. The benefits of this approach include the reduction or elimination of unnecessary risks during surgery as well as the reduction or elimination of costs associated with conducting unnecessary surgeries that did not need to take place because the physicians were not sufficiently trained prior to operating on real patients (which can lead to malpractice lawsuits).

The idea behind digital twins goes beyond the practical uses of this technology—it is rooted in the desire to create a more connected world where people’s decisions can be made with better information than what has been available in the past. When we’re able to see how our choices impact different systems—for example, seeing how changing one variable will affect overall energy consumption—we gain better insight into how we can create a more sustainable future.

As you may have heard, a digital twin is an avatar that represents your physical system. It’s kind of like an actor who plays the role of “you” in the virtual world and learns how to be more efficient, safer, and easier to use over time. This concept can be applied across systems ranging from trains to buildings to entire cities. Since all systems are made up of parts that must work together in order for a system as a whole to function properly (think about how many things need to go right just so you can take a shower), it makes sense that we’d want an accurate representation of those parts—and their interactions—in order for us humans running them not to make mistakes or waste energy unnecessarily.

As we’ve seen in this post, digital twins can be used for many different purposes. The technology has already been applied to industrial processes, healthcare, and the energy sector. In the future, we’ll likely see more uses for digital twins in retail and other industries as well. What will your digital twin look like?

This article talks about the barriers to simulation driven design faced everyday by engineers throughout the product development process – and how your organization can overcome them. We speak to product development companies and teams every day. Most strive to achieve:

  • Deeper understanding of product performance
  • Faster ramp-up, shorter development cycles and quicker time to market
  • Reduced design-cycle times
  • Fewer prototypes and first-time quality at reasonable cost
  • Reduced warranty liability and exposure

Odds are you’re already familiar with the traditional product development process. Taking ideas from concept, to design, simulation, prototyping all the way to manufacturing your products. For many years, industry has tried to consistently use simulation as a part of that process; for good reason. It typically improves quality, on-time delivery, and customer satisfaction.

Unfortunately, when simulation is used as a part of the product development process, it’s almost always used as the final validation step after a design is practically complete. But the fact is… that’s not exactly the vision of “simulation driven design” that the industry has been striving to achieve for years.  

So why is that? Let’s talk about the common barriers holding many companies back from achieving simulation driven design.

Common barriers of Simulation driven design

1.     Engineers feel they need to consult a simulation expert

Often, engineers feel like they don’t have the expertise to run simulations while they design – they feel like they need to consult an expert that may not be directly accessible. This creates design challenges early in your product development process.

2.     Engineers feel they need a simplified copy of the actual design model

Often, a simulation expert’s initial task is to figure out how to simplify a copy of the design model so that the simulation will run in a reasonable time and still provide an accurate actionable result. Many engineers don’t feel comfortable making the call regarding what part of their design is critical for a successful simulation.

3.     The iterative design process can be complicated

We can all agree that the design process is an iterative one. We can also agree that designing products is complicated. If it wasn’t, everyone would do it.

Certainly, a design engineer would want to use simulation as he/she iterates a design, but this would require running a simulation that could take hours – on multiple uniquely simplified copies over and over again. It’s just not efficient. It’s too disruptive to the design process. Because of this, design engineers generally don’t do it.

The solution: Simulate Earlier in the Design Process

What product development teams really need is a simulation tool that is fast, responsive, and so simple to use that it can literally keep up with design engineers during every step of the way.

No copies. No waiting. Just immediate simulation results throughout the design process.

By using simulation capabilities that are ‘pervasive’ across a concept and detailed throughout design stages – your organization will break down the barriers between design and simulation. Requirements and Quality.

That is the key.

The best part? There are solutions that give every design engineer what they need to truly achieve simulation driven design.

They provide design engineers with the ability to instantly understand how product design changes can impact a products performance. These solutions are called ANSYS Discovery Live and Creo Simulation Live.

The solution that makes simulation driven design easy

PTC and ANSYS partnered together to achieve an overarching goal to remove simulation barriers for product development teams. They accomplished this by deeply integrating ANSYS’s breakthrough of Discovery technology directly into Creo.

This partnership provides the best and broadest portfolio of engineering simulation software – putting the best in class design and simulation capabilities into a single product available to the fingertips of every design engineer – it’s called Creo Simulation Live.

How Creo Simulation Live Works

Creo Simulation Live uses a unique technology approach to deliver simulation results interactively as a product is being designed.

This solution compliments existing simulation offerings that tend to focus more on the analyses that require higher levels of fidelity or are used as a final validation step.

Creo Simulation Live works differently because it does not require the user or designer to be an expert in the field of analysis. They simply need to know basic constraint techniques and away they go.

Using this simulation technology analysis setup and simulation is fast and easy.

In fact, engineers are able to quickly learn the tool navigating a familiar command ribbon UI, context sensitive menus, RMB command access, simplified workflows and engineering terminology. Because, again, Creo Simulation Live puts real-time simulation right in your Creo design environment.

Creo Simulation Live even uses intuitive menus to define and place loads, and constraints. It allows simulations to be created and visualized in minutes and updated on-the-fly. It gives design engineers instantaneous feedback on design decisions.

How much can Simulation Driven Design Save You?

Solving design challenges with instantaneous simulation sounds great, but let’s talk about the return on investment (ROI) it could provide your organization.

Engineers across a diverse range of applications can take advantage of the many features that Creo Simulation Live offers to reduce both time and expense in the design process. These include:

  • Optimizing the product design and identifying issues early in the design process
  • Reducing the need for multiple heavy analysis iterations or prototypes
  • Mitigating the risk of product failure, warranty and liability claims

Investing in Creo Simulation Live gives your engineers a tool that enables them to realize their full design potential. 

Just like any business investment, engineers must be able to prove that the results obtained by using Creo Simulation Live are greater than the resources invested, and it’s worth the investment. On a basic level the return on investment (ROI) is the calculation of an investment’s cost versus its benefit.

To calculate an approximate ROI on Creo Simulation you don’t need to be an accountant, I will keep it simple! Try using the following formula: ROI = ((Gain of Investment)- (Cost of Investment)) / (Cost of Investment)

The Gain of Investment is the amount of money your organization will gain from using Creo Simulation Live.

Remember, money your organization does not have to spend, such as prototype costs, should also be included in your Gain of Investment number. E.g. the value of reducing the number of physical prototypes, the expense saved by reducing the number of hours spent on non-final design simulations, etc.

Your organization might also include the improved quality resulting in reduced cost of product warranty and repairs. In addition, you may also consider the value of the time saved in the product development process when using Creo Simulation Live. 

Creo Simulation Live can significantly reduce the number of design and prototype cycles, allowing more robust products to be marketed earlier. The Cost of Investment is the amount of money your organization will spend on Creo Simulation Live. The most obvious cost is the price of the Creo Simulation Live software.  To obtain specific costs for your organization feel free to reach out to us.

Your organization may also want to include the cost of training or implementation for the software. We can help you figure out the bottom-line investment in things like software and training. When calculating ROI make sure to document two things that will have an impact on your calculations, the timeframe, and the precision of your numbers.

Pick a timeframe for your calculation that is relevant to your organization (in the case that you are unsure as to what this might mean for your organization, we would be happy to assist). One year is a good timeframe to start, allowing the results to be annualized.

Your ROI calculation should be an estimate, and not down to the last dollar. Many of your numbers will be approximations.  Document your assumptions as you compile the numbers. That way you can voice your justification if asked later on.

Let’s look at an example taken from the Aberdeen Group – Industry Averages for Simulation Driven Design (2008, 2016).

Current Customer Numbers:

  • Annual Product Revenue: $100M
  • Percentage of Product Revenue from New Products: 25% ($25M)
  • Cost of Poor Quality (% of revenue): 8% ($8M)
  • Annual Cost of Prototypes (% of new product revenue): 2% ($500,000)
  • Number of Design Engineers: 100

Sample Creo Simulation Live Benefits:

  • Cost of Poor Quality: 10% savings – ($800,000)
  • Annual Cost of Prototypes: Decreased by 39% – ($195,000)

Creo Simulation Live Cost:

  • 100 Engineers x (~$2,400/engineer) = $240,000

ROI Calculation:

  • ROI = (($800,000+$195,000) – $240,000) / $240,000
  • ROI= 3.1

This demonstrates approximately a 300% return on investment!

Given this kind of return on investment, you now have a solid argument as to why purchasing Creo Simulation Live is the best option to overcome your design challenges! 

The Form Wash is designed for the Form 2 3D printer from Formlabs to automate the cleaning process between printing parts. It makes things much easier for engineers who don’t want to waste any time cleaning their prototypes so they can either use the Form 2 again for another print job or get back to their next project.

Washing printed parts before post-curing helps to remove excess residual resin from part surfaces and cavities. Formlabs suggests using isopropyl alcohol (IPA) as the solvent that is most compatible with washing.

Form Wash by Formlabs
The printed part on the left after cleaned in the Form Wash compared to the printed part on the right that was not cleaned.

If you take a look at the image above, you can see that the left part is much cleaner and visually is more detailed than its counterpart. After using the Form Wash, you can typically use the Form Cure to expose printed parts to light and heat to stabilize the parts for performance. Using the Form Cure is not necessary but using the Form Wash and Form Cure together is recommended for optimal finishing.

Colder Products Company (CPC) has trusted EAC for years to provide them multiple Form 2 printers and other Formlabs equipment and materials to rapidly prototype customized quick disconnect couplings, fittings, and connectors for plastic tubing used around the globe. We answer a few questions that users have about the Form 2 and also include an engineer’s intake as well. Here is how Jeff Martin, an applications engineer at CPC, uses the Form Wash in-house to reduce time spent cleaning 3D printed parts.


How much time does it take for one wash?

Formlabs says that most resins require washing for the Form Wash default programmed time, which is 10 minutes – although additional time is needed for some resins. The following table shows Formlabs’ recommended wash times for each resin being used.

ResinWash TimeResinWash Time
Tough20 minElastic10 min + 10 min
Rigid15 minDental SG5 min
Grey Pro15 minDental LT Clear 5 min
Castable10 minDenture Teeth & Base10 min
Castable Wax10 minCeramic 5 min
High Temp6 minAll other resins10 min

Jeff suggests that you should set your wash time at 20 minutes for each wash. He also recommends that it’s best to physically have 2 Form Washes in-house to speed up the cleaning process, “The first Form Wash set to 10 minutes to wash parts hanging from the build platform, and the second Form Wash is used to clean the parts broken free from supports.” (Keep in mind, he typically uses Rigid Resin for his 3D prints).

Form Wash by Formlabs


What’s the best way to wash prototypes?

If you’re using the Finishing Kit, Formlabs recommends that you should wash your prototypes in at least two standard wash tanks  – the first wash, being the ‘dirty’ wash, would take 10 minutes and then the second wash, using a cleaner tank, for another 10 minutes. Once the first tank gets dirty, you can dispose the IPA, transfer the second tank into the first tank, and then pour new alcohol into the second tank.

The Finishing Kit includes 2 wash tubs to manually clean your 3D prints – whereas the Form Wash automatically cleans your parts and prototypes. 

Jeff says the advantage of having a second Form Wash is that you can use Formlabs’ same theory of having a clean tank to do the final rinse. “I find it in my experience to be extremely useful to remove the supports for the second wash. The reason is that the supports block the fresh circulation of clean solvent from the parts. You will notice that for deep aspect bores and blind holes, if you do not remove the supports, they often times will not fully be cleaned of resin. After removing the supports and letting the parts bounce around in the basket during the last 10 minutes, they will always come out clean.”

Learn more FAQ by reading our related blog, “Everything You Need to Know About the Form 2 3D Printer.” If you’re interested in a free sample, then contact us at your earliest convenience. 

Also, follow me on LinkedIn for tips and tricks on how to use the Form 2 and other equipment and materials from Formlabs!

EAC’s been in the engineering and design technology world for a long time. Over the years we’ve carefully cultivated our product portfolio to meet the ever-changing needs of people and companies that design, manufacture, and service products. Our partnerships with PTC and ANSYS allow us to offer a few different design simulation and analysis solutions to our customers.
Design simulation, Computer Aided Engineering (CAE), Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), and many other terms all fall into the “simulation and analysis” bucket. These tools help engineers and designers create virtual prototypes of their products. This helps groups rapidly prove, or disprove, design ideas in a digital space – reducing the time and money spent on physical prototypes, and increasing confidence in designs.

“If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all” does not apply to simulation software. Different tools offer different benefits, accuracy, speed, and ease-of-use. Here’s a quick overview of some of the tools we offer. Contact our sales group to learn more about pricing, full capabilities, and packaging.

Option 1) PTC Creo Simulate

Simulate is a fantastic tool that’s fully integrated into PTC Creo Parametric CAD software. It offers fantastic meshing capabilities and accurate simulation results directly within a user’s familiar CAD software interface. All you need to do select the PTC Creo Simulate tab and you’re off and running. This is great for designers and engineers looking to test the stresses and loads under which a product will operate in ‘real world’ conditions. Based on your simulation and analysis results, you can either fix design flaws or forestall them. If you’re already using PTC Creo you should explore PTC Creo Simulate. Because, why would you ever manufacture a product without testing and analyzing it first? Creo Simulate comes in two flavors – Simulate and Advanced Simulate. They come with two different price points. One or the other might be the best option for your company. It really comes down to whether you need to simulate materials with linear or non-linear properties.

Option 2) ANSYS Discovery Live

ANSYS Discovery Live blows my mind. This tool was released in late 2017 and delivers functionality never seen before. Discovery Live uses ANSYS Discovery SpaceClaim to pull in IGES, STEP, and CAD models. Then the interface guides users through applying materials and some constraints – and Boom! It runs the simulation…in real-time…right in front of you. I’m talking about the ability to run wind-tunnel testing in real-time! Discovery Live is different from PTC Creo Simulate and most other simulation tools. It uses the Graphics Card (GPU) to run the simulation. This means it doesn’t occupy your core processor and RAM to while solving. You get better computer performance and instantaneous results for structural, thermal, fluid flow, wind tunnel, structural/fluid interaction, and more. Discovery Live is a great tool for engineers and designers that want to test a lot of design options quickly. The price is incredibly reasonable for a tool this powerful. You can see pricing and compare Discovery Live to AIM here.

Option 3) ANSYS Discovery AIM

Sometimes simulating real-world conditions requires more features and control than tools like PTC Creo Simulate, Solidworks Simulation, or Discovery Live might offer. ANSYS Discovery AIM is a great option when that’s the case. ANSYS Discovery AIM is a “multi-physics” simulation tool. What does that mean? Multi-Physics or Multiphysics refers to the ability to combine properties and solvers to simulate product usage. “Physics” in the simulation world refers to the kinds of simulation you are running – e.g. electromagnetic, thermal, structural, radio frequency, fluid flow, etc. AIM is a workflow driven multi-physics tool. It guides users through the steps necessary to complete a successful simulation. This is the perfect option when companies want a robust solution, but may not have experienced analysts on staff. Much like how PTC Creo Simulate maintains a familiar interface to make simulations easier; AIM uses guided workflows to make detailed upfront simulation accessible to engineers and designers.

Option 4) Dedicated ANSYS analysis software

When product simulation and analysis goes to the next level you need the ANSYS flagship products. These are sometimes known as the ANSYS Workbench products. Unlike PTC Creo Simulate or the Discovery software, each of these tools focus on one area of simulation…and deliver results you can take to the bank (or the regulatory agency). They are more complicated and come with a higher price point, but the results are unmatched. ANSYS’ comprehensive software suite spans the entire range of physics, providing access to virtually any field of engineering simulation that a design process requires. Organizations around the world trust ANSYS to deliver the best value for their engineering simulation software investment. If you need to test a specific physic – fluids, structures, electronics, semiconductors, or embedded software – this is the option for you. Contact us to learn more about a specific solution’s pricing and functionality. Also, if you’re a start-up make sure you ask us about special offers available through the start-up/entrepreneur program.

So there you have it. My layman’s take on a variety of simulation options. I hope you found this helpful. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or would like to see a demonstration of any of these tools.