In the first week of June, a group of individuals will gather on a Swiss mountaintop to discuss theories and exchange information: it’s no conspiracy, just one of various training seminars and users’ conferences for subscribers to numerous process simulation software platforms. The Switzerland event will be ESI Group’s Solidification Course 2013, and the developer promises this 22nd presentation of the course will work forward from the theoretical concepts toward applications of solidification theories in industrial processes: “Connection between macroscopic and microscopic aspects, such as the prediction of microstructures and defects as a function of process parameters,” will be emphasized, too.
ESI is one of the principle developers of simulation software for metalcasting, with a suite of products (ProCAST, QuikCAST) that simulate production processes in ways that will anticipate errors in mold filling and solidification defects, as well as predict mechanical properties and distortion.
Other developers make comparable efforts to coordinate their own technical developments with users’ experience. This month, Flow Science Inc. will offer a general training course for its computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software, and more focused courses will be staged on a monthly basis, on different subjects, including Flow-3D training. It will hold a users’ conference in Spain in June, and frequently adds more programs to the agenda.
With their objective of optimizing production, metalcasters cannot (and do not) prioritize theory, but that does not mean they aren’t ready for new ideas and applications – once they’re available. Which may not be soon, or frequent, enough. But, even if new ideas are not available it’s useful to know what problems and solutions other metalcasters are discussing.
In fact, Magma GmbH has moved to make more permanent its dissemination of ideas and applications for simulation. Last fall, Magma inaugurated a new training center at its headquarters in Aachen, Germany, expanding an earlier training and seminar series to match the widening demand for “knowledge transfer” on subjects of casting process simulation.
MagmaAcademy courses and seminars for casting designers, buyers, and executives, aim to help each area of interest use simulation more effectively, and profitably. That’s the link from theoretical to practical.
Also, MagmaAcademy’s training and seminar program will help users to gain new insights into casting simulation, ideally establishing a “continuous transfer of knowledge (and) expertise” that will expand the range of training and education programs. The Aachen center is offering general training and instruction on additional modules, including simulation for casting iron and steel, diecasting and permanent mold casting. It also will take more intensive approaches to stress simulation and core production.
The task for simulation software developers is changing. Less than two years ago, the experts’ pitch to prospective metalcasting customers was that the software would provide quick ROI, in terms of material and energy cost savings, as well as time of production. The expectation of new business also was a selling point.
Today, the task is to satisfy metalcasters’ widening need for new information and understanding about simulation software capabilities. Training programs and seminar courses are a way to keep users engaged and involved – but also help to consolidate brand awareness and customer satisfaction. More than that, they seek to portion out the new developments that users might otherwise wait two years or more to access, via a new software release.
Nothing holds simulation software users’ attention like a new release, of course, and Magma’s recent release of version 5.2 of its program proves that. Delivered in the second half of 2012 with the promise of “significant new and improved functionality,” it included 160 improvements, with high priority on increasing the efficiency for evaluating results. Magma5 5.2 allows direct comparison of up to four different project versions in the result perspective. Filling, solidification, and stress results can be animated in a synchronized mode.
A notable highlight of this release is the option to display the geometry and all Magma5 results in 3D stereo, using shutter or red/cyan 3D glasses, and to store those results as 3D images or movies.
New result criteria allow for an effective evaluation of metal cooling and critical metal speeds during filling. The progress of feeding and porosity formation can be monitored and displayed continuously during the entire solidification process. A new criterion to predict cold cracks allows the user to find stress-related casting quality problems more quickly. And, users can convert their own simulation results to compile specific criteria.
Also, Magma5 5.2 introduced an improved visualization of the diecasting process time line, and extended consideration of the heat-transfer conditions between the die and the diecasting, as a function of the local feeding conditions.
More recently, Flow Science Inc. made available the latest version of its CFD product: Flow-3D version 10.1 presents a redesigned GUI, based on “significant customer input,” that gives users a streamlined approach to setting up, running, and analyzing simulations. Developments in the Flow-3D v.10.1 solver include new cooling channels and spray models, and enhancements to the fluid structure interaction/thermal stress evolution and general moving objects models.
Flow-3D users will appreciate that the size of results files has been reduced substantially, so storing and handling the simulation data will be easier.
“The driving force behind the redesign of the GUI was to help our users increase their productivity by making it easier for them to unleash the power of Flow-3D’s solver,” according to John Ditter, Flow Science’s v.p. of Software Engineering. “Some of the ways we’ve addressed this is by making the interface customizable, so that users can set their own preferences, including windows; a redesign of the Meshing and Geometry window, where users spend most of their time; and a simulation queue manager that allows for easy management of simulations.”
The “user experience” remains the paramount standard for measuring effectiveness of simulation software, whether that experience is measured in production time, cost, academic credits, or frequent-flyer miles.
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