Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »
Transforming CAE With MSC Apex Cheetah Release: Modeler and Structures
July 16th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe
MSC Software Corp. recently announced a new release of MSC Apex, the company’s newest CAE platform. The MSC Apex Cheetah release introduces:
Both MSC Apex products, Modeler and Structures are complementary to Patran and MSC Nastran, if you feel the need to go a step further in CAE. If you need this additional capability, the Apex products do not expose you intellectual property (IP) to those who have no business being exposed to it.
According to the company, the new release enhances workflow and daily productivity with several modeling and analysis capabilities, and gives you the ability to perform design analysis more comprehensively and easily.
To get a better feel for these claims, we spoke with said Hugues Jeancolas, MSC Apex Product Manager who said, “Cheetah is a milestone release for MSC Apex, now delivering its first solver integrated solution for interactive and incremental structural analysis. Modeling, validating, solving, and exploring designs has never been this efficient and easy. MSC Apex helps users to crush the amount of time that it normally takes to build and validate models, a task that does not add any value to the design process. This frees our users to focus on delivering not just acceptable designs but ones that are optimal – in an environment that is fun to use.”
CAE, fun to use? That may be a bit of a stretch, but the demos we have seen make the claim a bit easier to swallow.
MSC Apex Modeler
MSC Apex Modeler is a CAE-specific direct modeling and meshing tool that streamlines CAD clean-up, simplification, and meshing workflow. The tool features capable and interactive tools that are relatively easy to learn and use.
Some of the major improved functions in the Apex Cheetah release of Modeler include an improved sketcher, geometry and mesh quality checks; auto extend with general bodies; stitching; defeaturing; global topology control; create/delete geometry nodes; multiple meshes on a single geometry body; and hierarchical model browser.
MSC Apex Modeler’s direct modeling and meshing workflow has the following basic six-step approach (although keep in mind that all steps may not be necessary all of the time):
MSC Apex Structures
MSC Apex Structures is a new add-on product that expands MSC Apex Modeler functionality with capabilities for linear structural analysis. Some of the characteristics of linear structural analysis include the structure returns to its original form; there are small changes in shape stiffness; there are no changes in loading direction or magnitude; material properties do not change; and there is only small deformation and strain.
MSC Apex Structures packages a user interface for scenario definition and results post-processing, as well as integrated solver methods. This tool is somewhat unique in that it combines computational parts and assemblies technology with a generative framework, enabling interactive and incremental analysis.
The integration of the UI with solver methods gives the user a unique ability to interactively and incrementally validate that FEM models are solver ready. At the user’s demand, a series of solver checks can be run against individual parts and assemblies and the model diagnostics are reported in the Analysis Readiness panel. This Incremental Validation is a radical departure from the very time consuming traditional approach where pre/post processor and solver are separate.
In addition, with Computational Parts and Assemblies, MSC Apex Structures is a true parts-based tool, where each part behavioral representation (Stiffness, mass, and damping) can be pre-computed and stored independently. This approach is especially efficient when combined with the MSC Apex generative framework, as the solver execution will only re-compute behavioral representations for parts that have changed since the last solver execution. We call this Incremental Solving. This new solver architecture is especially efficient in the context of trade studies.
Some of the major functions in the Apex Cheetah release of Structures include loads and constraints; assembly representation; computational parts and generative behavior; a comprehensive study manager; and several post functions.
MSC Apex Structures’ structural analysis workflow also has a basic six-step approach as follows:
Again, your exact steps for getting the job done may vary.
According to MSC Software, the key productivity accelerators in the Apex Cheetah release include:
Geometry clean-up and Meshing
Solver Validated Modeling
Generative Linear Structural Analysis
This approach is especially efficient when combined with the MSC Apex generative framework, as the solver execution will only re-compute behavioral representations for parts that have changed since the last solver execution. This new solver architecture is especially efficient in the context of trade studies.
The release cycle for the MSC Apex products is quite aggressive (as the names of the releases imply), coming at a rate of about two per year. That said, the next release, Apex Diamond Python, has been announced and is available.
From the beginning, Apex has been a modular approach to simulation with specific apps that perform specific functions, as well as provide complementary functions with each other and other products in the MSC Software stable, such as Nastran and Patran.
Although MSC Software’s intent is to “revolutionize” simulation, I don’t know if I’d go that far. However, I would agree that the Apex products are definitely transforming some things in an area that has been calling for some wake up and shake up.