Firstly I must apologize for the title… I’m afraid it sounds like one of those dodgy emails we all get from spammers but it was the best way of summarizing what I was going to write about today. Whenever I speak with mechanical engineers about why they use simulation, regardless of what they design or where they are from, they always say the same thing (and in no particular order):
- Reduce prototyping and testing costs
- Improve product performance and functionality
- Reduce design time
They each jostle for the top position depending on the industry or the type of application but that’s our trifecta. We all know about how reducing physical testing reduces costs but we rarely talk about how fluid flow and heat transfer simulation can help improve product performance/functionality. Improving product performance and functionality is cost-effective because you don’t need to invest in any tools. You don’t need to create a new design from scratch – you use what you already have as a baseline and you make it better, faster, cheaper. And simulation is the best tool at your disposal for taking your design to the next level.
Sometimes you hear of a case where you see benefits of simulation arising from a combination of the three “reasons”. Case in point: Fico Besi develops and markets a large range of chip packaging systems for mobile phones, PDAs, modems, computers as well as other electronic appliances. Their new generation of machines uses lasers as they are the ideal method for cutting printed circuit boards (PCB) and memory cards. The laser optics are protected by a glass window. The dust chamber prevents the laser light from escaping and protects the operator from dust and smoke.
Shortly after designing one of their new machines for a client, the team noticed that the laser lost effectiveness within 15 minutes. The dust created as a result of the cutting process seemed to contaminate the glass and absorbed the laser light; therefore, stopping the laser from reaching the PCB material. Since cleaning the glass required machine downtime and loss of productivity, the engineering team at Fico had an interesting challenge.
“We needed to increase the cleaning interval to meet our customer requirement of at least 4 hours” recalls Peter Venema, an engineer at Fico Besi. “We had to find a solution to prevent dust contamination and do it quickly since we were at a production facility.” Mr. Venema’s team was able to drastically reduce downtime to once every 3.5 to 4 hours by using simulation. But they wanted to do even better. So he went back to the drawing board and finally reached a solution of 11 hours of continuous runtime. I think we can safely say that Mr. Venema’s team not only met their customer’s specifications but they exceeded their expectations big time! If you’d like additional details on how they achieved this fantastic result, please feel free to go to this page.
Oh and before I forget, if you’re going to be at the 2009 Simulia Regional Users’ Meetings, please stop by and say hello to our team!
Until next time,