AutoDesk Nastran-in-CAD FEA review – part 3

AutoDesk NASTRAN in CAD FEA – powerful simulation in designer hands

Welcome back; here’s part three of my review of the AutoDesk Nastran-in-CAD FEA module. We’d left off talking about why conventional embedded simulation needs a boost. Take a look at the true reasons that design usually fails: first of all, there’s fatigue. You can imagine the hard core math algorithms you need in play to test for this. Then there’s the damage and deformation caused by excessive non-proportional loading, vibrations, and heat. The non-linear complexity and detail of these real world scenarios is totally beyond current in-CAD simulation capability.

Some designers in my neck of the woods still work in non-parametric 2D, with over-engineered parts eventually getting kicked over to basic FEA simulations, extensive physical prototype testing and last minute floor panic and tweaks.

If anyone can revolutionize this silo’d, backward workflow, it’s AutoDesk. They have their fingers in several exciting, progressive pies. The Cloud Accelerator program, the AutoDesk University, and the San Francisco artist-in-residence are just a few of my favorites.

Maybe AutoDesk Nastran-in-CAD FEA can launch some change to the old habits that die hard. Why? Because it gives designers the opportunity to factor in, early on, how our models perform over a lifetime when facing real-world physics.

Below are a few thoughts about my first exploration of AutoDesk Nastran-in-CAD FEA with Inventor 2015 Professional. (I haven’t yet tried it out with SOLIDWORKS yet but am curious about how it integrates, and may review later on.)

First of all, running AutoDesk Nastran-in-CAD FEA in Inventor requires serious horsepower. AutoDesk Nastran-in-CAD FEA is demanding. The two applications in tandem are resource intensive. Workstations sufficient to run CAD and complex small models might need some additional processing power, RAM or possibly just more powerful video cards.

If you are working on a large model in the CAD environment and don’t plan to use AutoDesk Nastran-in-CAD FEA, at least right away, just disable it. (By the way, you can also choose whether or not to save the finite element modeling data right in the CAD file. Click Default Settings > Database Settings; then check or uncheck Save FE Modeling Data).

AutoDesk Nastran-in-CAD FEA - settings window

AutoDesk Nastran-in-CAD FEA – settings window

Fig. 01 – AutoDesk Nastran-in-CAD FEA Settings – Uncheck if you don’t want to save FE data. Box is checked by default.

The good news is that Nastran-in-CAD is easy to install and access, and stable upon installation. This may seem trivial, but it’s important for those designers used to Inventor who don’t have standalone simulation software experience. The fact that the interface adopts traditional Inventor customs makes the learning curve way less steep.

Stay tuned for part 4 of my review!

Thanks, Rosanna D – VTN