Mechanical engineering simulation allows engineers to model real-life manufacturing processes on a computer.

Mechanical Engineering Simulation: The Definitive Guide


Mar 23, 2023

Mechanical engineering simulation allows engineers to model real-life manufacturing processes on a computer, validating product requirements and generating other key data more efficiently than traditional methods. 

This tool, while transformative, leaves many decision-makers with more questions than answers. ‘Is mechanical engineering simulation worth the investment?’ ‘How do I know which software to pick?’ 

Here’s how Transvalor’s team would respond to some of the most frequently asked questions about mechanical engineering simulation. 

A Guide to Manufacturing Simulation Software 

What Are Mechanical Engineering Simulations?

In mechanical engineering, simulations model the real-world behavior of a process or system virtually on a computer. These simulations allow engineers to investigate the impacts of changes on a design, process, or system without having to make changes to the actual components being simulated. Simulations are used in various aspects of mechanical engineering, but all try to model real-life processes.

How Does Mechanical Engineering Simulation Simulation Work?

For simulations to be accurate and useful, they must be able to accurately simulate real-world behavior. Physics laws and other governing equations have to be built into mechanical engineering simulations so that their impacts can be calculated throughout the simulation. Because of the complexity of the interactions, simulations may require millions of calculations per iteration requiring powerful computers to solve all of these equations.

What Kinds of Objects Can Be Simulated?

The processes and systems that can best be simulated follow a well-known process. If the system or process can be explained using a diagram or flow chart, then it can most likely be simulated. Well-documented systems are easier to understand the interactions that occur inside the process, which results in an easier translation of these relationships into the model.

What Are the Different Types of Simulations?

Simulations come in many different varieties and should be carefully matched to the process or system being simulated. Simulations typically model how something moves through time and space, or interacts with other systems. These simulations are called:

  • Discrete event simulation
  • Dynamic simulation
  • Process simulation

Discrete event simulation models a system’s progression through time. For a manufacturing simulation, this model may simulate how a part is made via stamping, injection molding, or milling. 

Dynamic simulations model how a system moves through space. Aerodynamic testing or machine kinematics may require dynamic simulation to determine performance. Finally, process simulation attempts to model how multiple physical systems will interact. Process simulations include weather forecasting and in-manufacture product modeling.

How Are Mechanical Engineering Simulations Used?

For production and manufacturing, simulation capabilities offer a competitive advantage and are critical to producing higher-quality products with lower costs. 

In a manufacturing environment, mechanical engineering simulation allows engineers to see the impacts of changes to a part’s design or the process parameters without having to do any actual manufacturing. The benefit of being able to test in a virtual environment means that many more iterations can be performed in less time in order to optimize the process.

What Features Should Simulation Software Have?

Any simulation software should be designed to work well with the process being modeled. The software’s ease of use is an important parameter to keep in mind also. Depending on how the software will be used, ease of use can be more or less important. For research labs, more difficult interfaces with more flexibility and that require higher levels of training to use may be okay. In production environments, easy-to-use interfaces are a must.

Integration with other software packages is also critical. Many parts are designed in CAD software before being used in a process simulation. Easy integration between software packages will help ensure errors are minimized.

The ability to handle large simulations is another feature to look for. Some mechanical engineering simulation software cannot handle large simulations or take too long to perform the simulation. Understand how well the software can model typical processes and how long the iterations take to run.

What’s the Best Simulation Software?

The best simulation software is the one that best model’s a given process with the least amount of effort and training to operate. 

For simulating hot, warm, and cold forming processes, FORGE® is the best option available. FORGE® allows users to validate forged parts, improve the forging sequence, deliver high-quality components, increase die life, and optimize equipment. FORGE® does all of this with an easy-to-use interface that allows less experienced personnel to operate the simulation.

Once FORGE® has been set up and validated, the software provides a virtual forging platform where processes can quickly be optimized through many iterations. Some of the outputs that FORGE® can simulate include:

  • Microstructure
  • Grain flow
  • Press load
  • Die life analysis
  • Final shape and dimensions
  • Folds/laps

How Accurate Are Simulations?

For the results of a simulation to be trusted, the simulation or model must be validated. Validation involves setting up a model, performing a simulation, and then comparing the simulation results to real-world results. If the model’s predictions and the real-world results are not closely aligned, the simulation needs to be checked.

Sometimes the model is performing correctly, but the inputs to the model are not accurate. If the inputs are accurate and the boundary conditions are well defined, the equations powering the model may need to be adjusted. Once a simulation has been fine-tuned and validated, it serves as a powerful tool to optimize processes quickly.

Learn More About Mechanical Engineering Simulation

Still have outstanding questions about mechanical engineering simulation? Contact Transvalor USA. Our team of experts are here to make sure you get the best investment possible.

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