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MSC Apex Generative Design

Bridge the Gap between Design and Manufacturing with Smart Generative Design
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Summary

MSC Apex Generative Design is the fully automated generative design solution built on the most intuitive CAE environment in the world, MSC Apex. It exploits all the easy-to-use and easy-to-learn features of MSC Apex while employing the most innovative generative design engine in the background. The software delivers a new and innovative approach for design optimization which overcomes the constraints of classical topology optimization techniques and dramatically decreases the effort required in the design optimization workflow:

  • Automatically generate multiple smooth structural design candidates that all satisfy the design criteria while minimizing the weight.
  • Import existing geometries or mesh, either in CAD, STL, or MSC Nastran BDF format, find optimized design candidates, and perform design validation all inside a single CAE environment.
  • Export geometry from optimization result directly in a format that can be transferred into common CAD platforms and used immediately without manual re-work.
  • Read the resulting geometries in Simufact Additive or Digimat AM to significantly reduce the time of Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM)



How does MSC Apex Generative Design work?

MSC Apex Generative Design's innovative approach has been proven in practice. At the heart of MSC Apex Generative Design lies our "Generative Design Engine". It is based on Finite Element Analysis but, unlike traditional methods, does not use a density field, rather utilizes a very fine mesh with well-defined elements. This enables the algorithm to directly evaluate the occurring stresses, as well as reliably derive distinct geometries that are truly unimaginable by human mind. The advantages are compelling:

Advantages

  1. Automated meshing and no prior knowledge of finite element analysis required
  2. Multiple design candidates generated based on optimization settings
  3. The results are always smooth and, theoretically speaking, ready to print using Additive Manufacturing


Status Quo

  • Design is heavier than needed
  • Material waste is higher leading to negative environmental impact
  • Number of iterations required between design, engineering, and manufacturing engineers to satisfy all criteria

Future

  • Designs are lightweight
  • Designs can be manufacturing using Additive Manufacturing resulting in lower material waste
  • Built in Finite Element (FE) analysis and manufacturing validation helps reduce number of iterations between design, engineering, and manufacturing


What does MSC Apex Generative Design do?



Benefits MSC Apex Generative Design

Significant time reduction
MSC Apex Generative Design makes design for manufacturing smarter because it combines speed with high levels of automation to significantly reduce the time required for optimization. The result is a fast, cost-efficient and integrated process.

Stress constraint based optimization
Stresses are usually the most important layout criterion for a part design. MSC Apex Generative Design technology makes it possible to optimize in a stress-oriented manner. This approach enables a true bionic-shaped design, with a very homogenous stress distribution to ensure high part reliability.

Optimization for Additive Manufacturing
Every manufacturing technology requires design rules to avoid quality issues manufacturing a part. This is especially important to get Additive Manufacturing right first time. In contrast to most common optimization solutions, MSC Apex Generative Design has integrated fully integrated these and applies them functionally to optimization.

Automated retransition to CAD
Conventional optimization software requires the use of additional retransition software to transition computer-generated structures to CAD, and the know-how and experience to use it. MSC Apex Generative Design incorporates this core functionality in a single environment and automatically transfers the design for optimal CAD/CAM linkage.

Intelligent smoothing
The efficient transition into fine and smooth surfaces is automatically conducted by an intelligent algorithm. A defect-free surface is inevitable , ensuring the high quality of every single part.

Automatic mesh generation
The mesh for the optimization model is automatically generated and error-free compared to a manual, time-consuming process using conventional optimization software.

Optimization without design space possible
While the definition of the build space is a prerequisite in conventional software, MSC Apex Generative Design can start the optimization process without a build space. This is much faster and more flexible.

Robust, automatic adjustment of resolution
MSC Apex Generative Design makes it possible to automatically adjust the resolution or geometry. Once a rough geometry has been generated, the software increasingly refines the resolution until a finer, more detailed structure is achieved.

One-shot optimization
With conventional software, several different optimization approaches need to be tested and calculated. Every iteration costs time and money. MSC Apex Generative Design enables the quick review of the first optimization direction, which can be easily adapted for a fast and correct result.

Highest resolution
MSC Apex Generative Design is designed specifically to generate the detailed and highly complex structures that only additive processes can manufacture. It is impossible to realize the necessary extent of calculation effort with conventional optimization software.

Lattice Structure Optimization
Lattice structures have a high potential for lightweighting. Yet, the transition from solid material to lattice structures is usually critical and prone to a defect. With MSC Apex Generative Design, the complete structure can be automatically optimised to generate a smooth stress-optimised transition so that the structures optimally grow together.



Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM)

MSC Apex Generative Design is designed specifically to generate the detailed and highly complex structures that only additive processes can manufacture. The high resolution of the optimised designs ensure that the results can be sent straight to print. However, in cases where further manufacturing and design validation is necessary, MSC Apex Generative Design is interoperable with Simufact Additive, Digimat AM, and MSC Nastran.

MSC Apex Generative Design enables manufacturers to improve their utilization of expensive additive manufacturing technology and improve their return on investment in equipment, because reducing design effort at the beginning of a workflow drives down the total cost of manufacturing runs and the lead time per part.



Case Studies

Lightweight construction is particularly important in satellite design because every extra kilogram generates high costs for transportation into space. If weight can be saved, the valuable payload of the launch vehicle or satellite can be used for further applications and added value can be created.

This was exactly the aim of the project between the space company Tesat-Spacecom GmbH & Co. KG, the machine manufacturer Trumpf and the AMendate Generative Design specialists. The pictured mountings of drives for regulating microwave filters are to be used in the German communications satellite Heinrich Hertz, which is to test the space capability of new communications technologies. For this application, the weight of the mount needed to be reduced. MSC Apex Generative Design was used to achieve this.

A new, highly complex design was created by applying generative design, which enables maximum lightweight construction and is perfectly adapted and designed to the operational requirements. The result for the TESAT mount is impressive: 55% weight saving for a component designed for space technology. Instead of 164 grams, the mounting weighs only 75 grams. In addition, AMendate’s innovative, stress-oriented optimization has further increased the stiffness of the component. The homogeneous stress distribution generated by MSC Apex Generative Design enables excellent stiffness and robustness with maximum weight reduction at the same time.

“Today, additive manufacturing enables us to produce digitally generated and optimized geometries cost-efficiently. This offers enormous potential for lightweight construction, especially in space technology, but also in many other areas. In the future, generative design will play a key role in the uncomplicated and efficient use of this potential,” commented Dr. Thomas Reiher, Director Generative Design at Simufact Engineering.

This new type of complex geometry can now only be produced with additive manufacturing. Trumpf took on this task with the TruPrint 3000 3D printer. The Heinrich Hertz satellite mission is carried out by DLR Space Management on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy and with the participation of the Federal Ministry of Defense.


Copyright: Tesat-Spacecom GmbH & Co. KG

Every year a team of young students from the UPBracing Team develops a FormulaStudent racing car to compete in international competitions. Two factors are essential for a successful racing car: light weight and strong components. In addition to the races in which drivers and racing cars prove their performance, there is also an extra rating for the lightweight construction of the racing car. Due to its fourfold use, the wheel carrier is ideal for saving weight while meeting high load-bearing requirements.

Figure 1: Conventional design for milling, due to the very complex shape the parts weighs 515g but produces 15.5kg aluminium waste

In previous years, the teams had tried to design light weight wheel carriers with complex milling designs. The wheel carrier in 2012 (figure 1) with a traditional, already complex, milling design weighed 515g. It was milled from a 16kg block of material thus producing 15.5 kg of aluminium waste. For the 2018 season, MSC Apex Generative Design technology was applied to create an optimal lightweight design. Design and non-design areas were defined in the model design and the complex load cases were added. The mesh was then automatically generated and optimized. The algorithm generated the finished smoothed result on a workstation with the high-end NVIDIA Tesla P100 graphic card in 6 hours (which would take approximately 14 hours with a solid workstation GPU NVIDIA QUADRO P5000). The result was single wheel carrier of with a weigh of 266g – a reduction of 48% compared to the 2012 equivalent. There was also no significant waste of material because the part was produced by additive manufacturing. This contributed considerably to the overall weight reduction of the race car and gained a lot of attention and a very good rating within the design report, a special category in the overall competition.

A popular example for testing the optimization quality of different algorithms is the "GE Jet Engine Bracket". This bracket of an aircraft turbine was published on the GrabCAD website by General Electric in 2013 as a design challenge for additive manufacturing (https://grabcad.com/challenges/ge-jet-engine-bracket-challenge). The challenge was to redesign the very simple component design using any method, and to develop a component that was as light as possible while taking the given boundary conditions into account.

The Challenge attracted a great deal of attention and is still frequently used today to demonstrate the strengths of new algorithms.


Figure 1: GE Jet Engine Bracket Optimization by MSC Apex Generative Design

The same component with the same loads was calculated by MSC Apex Generative Design, with the result shown in Figure 1. The result shown here was calculated on a CAD workstation with two Nvidia P5000 graphics cards in about 6 hours. The result was an optimally-shaped, thin, multi-curved shell with thin additional struts for the transmission of the highest loads. This design is very stable, particularly light and easy to produce with additive processes because hardly any support structure required, and it can only be achieved with a particularly high calculation resolution.

The automated generative design from MSC Apex Generative Design shown here is even lighter and has lower stress than other solutions. A weight of only about 140g could be achieved with a maximum stress of 680 MPa (target stress 700MPa).

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