Virtual Prototyping

The actual prototyping process

The prototyping process allows the realization of an idea in a physical object. After the prototype has been manufactured, a test is checked to see if it meets the intended purpose and requirements, whether visual, structural integrity, performance or otherwise. If the prototype does not live up to expectations then the product will have to be redesigned, another prototype will have to be built and new tests will have to be done.
Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) Tools and Virtual Prototyping

The term CAE is used to define software used in analysis engineering functions and encompasses: structural simulation (FEA), fluid simulation (CFD), multibody dynamics simulation (MBD), among others.

These tools have come to aid and modernize product development. With CAE tools you can test each drawing and make the necessary adjustments to the virtual environment. Thus, the need for physical testing is reduced and in many cases eliminated: the first prototype is the only prototype needed.

Advantages of Virtual Prototyping

Although the prototyping process is very useful, using it exclusively can put a heavy burden on product development. This is why, increasingly, the prototyping process and actual testing have been complemented by virtual prototyping and even replaced by it. For example, during the conceptual phase, changes in product design are very frequent and the use of simulation becomes much faster and more efficient than the prototyping process. On the other hand, in later phases, it is impracticable to manufacture prototypes of all components of a complex system, such as a robot; In this case, prototypes are generally simplified and do not represent the final product.

We can list the following advantages of virtual prototyping:

  • Cheaper and faster product development cycle

Prototype building and physical testing are time consuming and costly processes. Using simulation allows you to reduce and even eliminate the need for prototyping.

In addition, often a product is only tested at the final stage of the project, at this stage any change entails very significant costs. The introduction of simulation in the early design phases allows for design correction during these phases – when the cost of a change is much lower.

  • Increased product quality standard

While the use of CAE tools does not automatically guarantee a flawless product, their use nevertheless enables product testing under a wider range of conditions. As a result, more reliable, robust and customer satisfaction products are designed.

  • Differentiated products and greater competitive advantage

With access to CAE tools, you can not only understand what happens to the product, but why. This is a crucial factor in designing better, more efficient products with a tangible competitive advantage.