September 26, 2011
MapleSim 5: Symbolic Computation for Physical Modeling and Simulation
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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The basic steps for creating and simulating a physical model using MapleSim follow. Be mindful that the simulation process described below is greatly simplified and summarized.
  • Add and connect model components into a system. Start by selecting components from the MapleSim component library. They are organized in domain-specific palettes , such as electrical, mechanical, etc. Next, define how components will interact in the model by specifying component property values, such as parameter units and initial conditions. Continue adding components and subsystems and specifying values. Annotate the model with lines, math notation, etc. As you build a model, view components and subsystems in the Model Tree browser.
  • Simulate and visualize a model. All components in models contain algebraic and/or differential equations that describe behavior. Components may define events which, in turn, can change component behavior. Connections between components generate additional equations that describe how the components interact with each other. All of the equations are collected into one large system and parameters are substituted in. MapleSim then takes this potentially large system of hybrid equations and simplifies for solving, while ensuring that no information is lost and full accuracy of the results are preserved. The equation is integrated
    and solved. Lastly, the results are generated and displayed with graphs showing quantities of pre-defined interest. For multi-body mechanical systems, 3D animations can be displayed.
  • Analyze a model. Because MapleSim is integrated into the Maple environment, if required, you can use Maple commands, embedded components, plotting tools, and other features to analyze and manipulate behavior of MapleSim models or subsystems. For example, you can use Maple to retrieve and work with MapleSim model equations, test input and output values, as well as perform other advanced analysis tasks.

  • Maplesoft provides excellent documentation and tutorials for MapleSim 5, along with recommended best practices that include:
  • To begin building a model, drag components from palettes to the workspace, then position, orient, and connect them.
  • Create subsystems for component groups that can be reused and analyzed.
  • Use the debugging console to identify unintended subsystem copies and unconnected components.
  • When building electrical models, include ground components in electrical circuits and verify connections of current and voltage sources.
  • When building 1D translational models, verify that all force arrows are pointed in the same direction.

  • These are just a few best practices, but these and others will ensure that models work as intended the first time.

    What's New in MapleSim 5

    Since it been a while since I had last taken a close look at MapleSim, I was interested in what was new in MapleSim 5. Some of the highlights I discovered included:
  • Over 150 new components in MapleSim 5 that expand the modeling capabilities of MapleSim, so you can use it to model a wider range of systems. A new Magnetic Library has components that can be used to model electromagnetic solenoids, saturating transformers, motors, and other devices.
  • A new thermal fluids library adds thermal fluids components, so you can model heat loss in pipes and valves in MapleSim. Additional electrical components include multiphase switches, analog switches and semiconductors, three-phase transformers, and digital converters. Mechanical components have been expanded and provide 1D translational and rotational motion and force drivers, and sensors.

  • MapleSim 5 includes over 150 new additional components, including new libraries for magnetics and thermal fluids.

  • MapleSim 5 includes enhanced diagnostics to assist you in testing, building, and troubleshooting your model. In addition to construction diagnostics, MapleSim 5 now provides early feedback related to the definition of the model itself, such as identifying inconsistent initial conditions, so that you can make corrections before running a simulation. MapleSim shows the location of the problem within the model by highlighting the affected components. In many cases, MapleSim provides guidance to help you resolve the problem, such as telling you which variables may need to change. With these enhanced diagnostics, simulation
    problems are avoided or resolved quickly, reducing model development time.
  • You can quickly experiment with your model by changing parameter and initial conditions values directly, without having to first navigate to the subsystem or component where the parameter is defined in the model diagram. You can also temporarily override system variables, such as modifying a single instance of a shared library component or subsystem. Once you are satisfied with the results, you can choose to maintain different values or promote the new value so it is shared by all copies.
  • The model design environment now includes smart automatic rerouting of diagrams to simpler, cleaner forms, scalable port labels, and automatic labeling of subsystem ports. As a result, it is faster to construct the diagram, and the results are easier to interpret.
  • Numerous improvements to the 3D modeling environment make it easier to construct and explore 3D models. MapleSim 5 lets you zoom in on a selection or the position of the cursor. You can select a specific component from a list of all components that share the same position in the 3-D diagram.

  • MapleSim’s multi-domain modeling environment lets you combine elements from different domains into a single model. This electro-hydraulic clutch actuator includes components from the new magnetics library in MapleSim 5, as well as electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic components.

    Final Thoughts

    Maple 15 and MapleSim 5 form a combination of software products that work extremely well together for solving general mathematical problems, but really excel at creating and solving parametric problems involving physical models and simulation.

    Each succeeding release of Maple and MapleSim get significantly better and as mathematical learning, modeling, and simulation tools, continue to be in class by themselves.


    MapleSim5/Maple 15

    Mathematical tools for parametric physical modeling and simulation

    Pluses: Wide range of math modeling capabilities; product support (documentation, tutorials, etc.); result outputs; appeal and usefulness to broad range of prospective technical users.

    Minuses: None significant.

    Overall Grade: A+

    Price: Maple 15 – $2,275 (USD)

            MapleSim 5 – $5,515 (USD)

            Discounted pricing available for academic and government users.

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