That’s right. Loads of simulation. Loads and loads of it. Pun totally intended. Engineering simulation is a beast. It can chew up your time and computing power like it’s binging on a massive mix of laminar and turbulent flow scenarios. NOM NOM NOM. So, a few software development companies are building apps that allow you to push this computationally intensive task to the web browser, free up your RAM and let you continue your work as a joyous 3D geometry making elf for the corporate fairy princess. That last bit is not working, but SimScale is and they’re putting simulation to work in the web browser. It may sound familiar, but as far as we’ve seen, it’s the most complete set of simulation tools available yet and they’re just getting started.
SimScale Brings the Simulation
SimScale is a Germany-based company bringing web-based simulation to engineers. It’s more than just a place to send off a model for meshing though. You’re building the meshes in the browser, setting boundary conditions and running the simulations. On the site, they have a library with files, allowing users to share simulations with the community, complete with process details, tags, a public link and ability to import into your own workspace.
It is also a simulation platform that runs mechanical analysis, fluid and thermodynamic processes built atop a community for sharing and collaboration. You can currently import STEP, STL, BREP and IGES 3D file formats and they have a tutorial that walks you through the process of getting started. The project is currently available to try for free with professional and individual pricing at price/hour and price/boot.
There are three aspects that people are most curious about when it comes to completing part of the product development process over the web: Latency, Accessibility and Viability. We talked with David Heiny of SimScale about these three areas and how they are addressing and explaining them.
Latency: The SimScale platform provides an engineering simulation workflow within a web-browser. Typically, the workflow on the platform starts with the upload of a CAD model which is generally of reasonable size. Since the data intensive work steps (mesh creation, solving) are performed online, the user does not have to download those large data sets. So except the case the user wants to download the mesh/result files, there is no need for large downloads or uploads.
Accessibility: In order to access files and data, the user has to be online and currently there is no offline mode. However, once a simulation is started, the actual computation is carried out in large computing centers such that the user can log off, and check later on the results. Furthermore, all generated data (mesh / results) can be downloaded, since we want to keep the workflow on the platform flexible and open.
Viability: I think this highly depends on the profile of the company and its usage of simulation. Generally, I think that the generic concept of ‘cloud simulation’ in its different forms is a young topic that comes both with challenges as well as added value. Each user should decide based on his requirements, use case and current access to simulation capacity if and how ‘cloud simulation’ can leverage his product development. In some cases this could mean an extension or a replacement – in others, this could mean enabling the usage of simulation in the first place. At SimScale we are convinced, that such an approach to simulation simply creates new opportunities for engineers on how they can make use of simulation technology: The access to scalable computing power enables running more/larger simulations than the own hardware would allow; Usage-based pricing allows the utilization of simulation technology when fixed expenses for software and hardware would normally not; Collaboration features allow efficient team work for distributed teams.
Cloud simulation, or any other type of cloud-linked software or service using your 3D geometry, is certainly
sucking the internet teet in its infancy. Although there are plenty of services you use everyday to share or store data on the web, the idea of depending on an offsite server (and service provider) to take care of things, fluctuating bandwidth and the threat of inaccessible data is keeping complete cloud-based uptake from happening by user and software developer alike. Engineering Simulation is the next area receiving the attention though, and SimScale is certainly showing the possibilities.