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Universal Viewer

One of the most exciting user productivity improvements in Active Workspace 3.3, is the new universal viewer.  It enables viewing and paging through multiple file attachments.  In prior releases, only one file could be viewed.  You could not easily view other file attachments. Siemens also enabled support to view additional types of files including image files, text files, and html files.  This viewer supports markup for many of those types as well.

This video showcases the new Universal Viewer capabilities in detail : Video –> https://tatatechnologies-my.sharepoint.com/:v:/p/chh71981/EeRs_dhUVGFMttEJCA-jA6oBhctAJ5u2MJlI7nrgKtfO_g?e=6ed75893bbd14cbc8ed1e2bae4b5a89f

Tab Overflow Direct Access

Previous versions of Active Workspace used a carousel approach and required multiple clicks to navigate to tabs that were hidden.  The new approach allows for direct access to any of the hidden tabs. Highlights include

  • Eliminates multiple clicks to access some tabs compared with prior carousel interaction
  • Dropdown allows direct access to any of multiple tabs that not shown
  • Preserves the order of tabs
  • Replaces last tab with newly selected tab

This video shows how the new tab overflow access works. Video –> https://tatatechnologies-my.sharepoint.com/:v:/p/chh71981/Ee4PAkm1arFLgX1O9ntK7HUBBnlGq4Lp80c-ABgLwMyMmg?e=0e49e05d625f4a8aa69ebe4828d097e4

Command Stack for Visual Analysis

Siemens introduced command stacks in Active Workspace 3.2.  This is an example of their usage in 3.3 to improve access to the 3D viewer’s analytics capabilities.  Instead of having to navigate tabs, users can now directly access any of the features using the command stack.  Highlights include

  • Directly access measure, query, section, and volume and proximity search commands
  • Administrators can configure alternative arrangements and visibility of commands for specific roles, e.g., commands can be unstacked or hidden for specific roles

This video shows how the command stack works for the viewer’s analytics capabilities. Video –> https://tatatechnologies-my.sharepoint.com/:v:/p/chh71981/ES5hLZtLNRVGm83QhYlDK_oBvd5T7PFSIVoxCIeOdKLgfA?e=a41a12221db24687bd2a22052b5fbe31

Drag and Drop in Structured Content

Active Workspace 3.2 supported cut/copy/paste to edit structures, including working across multiple browsers and across multiple structures. Active Workspace 3.3 builds on that capability to improve user productivity by enabling drag and drop for many cases as described below

Edit structures efficiently using drag and drop

  • Drag and drop between unstructured lists such as folders, search results, & favorites and structures
  • Drag within one window or across multiple windows
  • Drop action active only when dragged object is valid to be dropped on the target object

Predictable results based on context

  • Drag and drop between structures to copy content
  • Drag and drop content within a structure to move
  • Drag and drop different types of objects/elements to create relations – e.g. dropping a requirement on a part creates a tracelink

This video shows how drag and drop in structures works. Video –> https://tatatechnologies-my.sharepoint.com/:v:/p/chh71981/EcYi1jhbOI5KpWfF6TgZ-OsBl9_29hDZtCSxiv8juCz6xA?e=b217d73bc6184553bfd4538150231a52

Other miscellaneous

Some of the other improvements include

  • Icons in the object header make it easy for users to clearly understand what object is open. For objects with thumbnails the thumbnail is displayed with the type icon overlaid
  • Newly created items show up in at the top of the list to ensure that they are immediately visible and easily accessed.Object is automatically selected in single create mode
  • Easily paste on a folder or in its contents .Select a target folder and user paste command from the command bar, Use paste command on table header to directly paste content into the table

 

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises for Abaqus user community in 2018 is that the two most popular licensing schemes of Abaqus would gradually go away for new customers. These schemes are Abaqus analysis pack and Abaqus portfolio pack. It’s worth mentioning that many of our Abaqus customers are still using either of these two licensing schemes. While our current customers who have perpetual or lease licenses may be able to continue with these schemes, our future customers will have to migrate to something that is available as a replacement. Instead of putting this news as a surprise to each customer individually, I thought a common piece of information well in advance through a blog article would keep the anxiety under control.

THE MIGRATION PATH

The migration path eventually leads to a token configuration that has been available since couple of years now. It is called the extended tokens configuration. While many of our customers have already migrated to this licensing scheme by choice, others are still using one of the traditional licensing schemes. Let’s look at the logic behind this high-level decision. If we look at the history of acquisitions that Dassault Systemes has made in past few years, it looks like this:

 

The inception of extended tokens is related to acquisition of three companies in above chart: FE-Design, Safe Tech and Engineous. The product offerings from these companies, if coupled with Abaqus can greatly enhance its simulation portfolio. Following acquisition, these products were offered as point tools for a long time with their individual licensing and pricing schemes. As a result, existing Abaqus customers who wished to use either one or more of these products had to go through a complicated purchase and IT process. Dassault Systemes has been looking for a consolidated licensing scheme that would enable users to procure these products along with Abaqus in a single license file that works on a single token scheme and on a single license server. This token scheme is now called the extended tokens. At this point of time Dassault Syetemes believes it makes sense to migrate all existing Abaqus users to extended tokens through a migration path that would enhance the simulation portfolio of users in a cost-effective way.

           COMPARISON BETWEEN DIFFERENT TOKEN SCHEMES

Siemens PLM has introduced lots of new functionality and improvements in the  latest version of Active Workspace 3.3 , the key themes being

  1. User Productivity Improvements
  2. Reduce Information Overload
  3. Configure, Extend, and Deploy
  4. Process Execution and Other Application and Industry Template Exposure

The user productivity improvements are breakdown into three categories.

  1. Improved user efficiency

First focus area for user productivity is  improved user efficiency and proficiency, which is achieved through the use of accelerators such as drag and drop and multiple select to do bulk actions. Some key capabilities are

  • Universal viewer
  • Tab overflow
  • Command stack for analysis
  • Copy and paste hyperlink improvements
  • Drag and Drop Editing structure editing
  1. Enable “Completing a thought” with a single client

Second focus area for user productivity is to enable users to complete a thought with a single client.  Users are enabled to execute complete use cases with just the Active Workspace UI or with a native authoring application and Active Workspace hosted within it.  In the latest version core features and capabilities are extended for targeted use cases. Some key ones are

  • Manage Security in Single Level Projects Hierarchy – multi-select for project security
  • Achieve secure collaboration by applying project security to configured structure content
  • Effectively manage granular access to data in larger programs through hierarchical project level security
  • Assign existing effectivity criteria to qualify what structured content will be configured
  • Define new effectivity configuration criteria
  • Create a baseline of a structure to capture a view of that structure at a point in time
  • Enable showing only the results from a find in context to easily visualize them
  1. Responsive performance

Third focus area for improved user productivity is to make the client perform and respond as fast as possible to user gestures.  In the latest version server calls are minimized to reduce latency sensitivity.  Things like long running reports are run in the background to free up the client and to allow the user to do other work. Some key improvements are

  • Minimize bandwidth and memory usage through virtual paging and streaming of content
  • Minimize server communications and sensitivity to high latencies
  • Efficient execution through journaling, analysis, and tuning

I will introduce the new user productivity improvement features to you in detail through the subsequent blogs

 

MESHING CAPABILITIES IN ABAQUS CAE

It is a well-known fact in the CAE community that the efficiency and accuracy of finite element models are directly dependent on the quality of the underlying meshes in the model. The various quality parameters associated with elements are element size, aspect ratio, skew angle, jacobian, warp, and many more. Yet another parameter of concern is element topology, which means triangular/quadrilateral elements in case of shell meshes and tetrahedral/hexahedral elements in case of solid meshes. Each of these element topologies has its own advantages and disadvantages; for example, tetrahedral elements are easy to create on complex geometries but they have slower convergence, while hexahedral elements are very much desired in computational expensive simulations such as crash due to better convergence and accuracy but cannot be created easily.

Due to specific meshing requirements arising from the increasing complexity of part geometries, meshing techniques are becoming more important across all industry verticals. Transportation & mobility is primarily concerned with hexahedral meshes of pre-defined quality for very complex geometries. This industry has more focus on using Hypermesh and Ansa as a dedicated meshing tools. However these tools are primarily known for good meshing capabilities only. When there is a need to create input decks for advanced non-linear simulations such as with Nastran solution sequences 600/700 or for Abaqus multiphysics or acoustics, many of the solver features are not supported by Hypermesh or Ansa and have to be entered manually into the deck. Aerospace industry has almost always a requirement for composites modeling. They prefer a user interface that can either create or import composite plies and layups. The need for high quality meshes on complex geometries is rather rare. Due to these reasons Aerospace industry has been relying on MSC Patran since many years due to its composites modeling capabilities. However industry is now looking at alternate tools as Patran is losing its competitive edge on CAD import, CAD repair as well as meshing techniques. The CAD repair features are very minimal, there is no CAD associative interface to propagate design changes on FE side and meshing techniques offered are still at very basic level as well.

The objective of this blog is to highlight the meshing techniques in Abaqus CAE that makes CAE a tool of choice in situations where a decent quality mesh, tight integration with multiple CAD platforms as well as tight integration with Abaqus solver are topics of concern for the analyst. It’s worth mentioning for Aerospace industry audience that Abaqus CAE has basic composite modeling capabilities. For advanced composite modeling and visualization capabilities, there is an add on module called composite modeler for Abaqus CAE and there is tight integration between CATIA composites workbench and Abaqus CAE for transfer of FE meshes as well as ply layup information.

THE MESHING TECHNIQUES

 There are primarily four meshing techniques available in Abaqus CAE, both for solid meshes as well as for shell meshes.

Free meshing: This is the easiest of all the techniques as it almost always works with a single click. It primarily generates quadrilateral or triangular elements on surfaces and tetrahedral elements on solids, even on very complex geometries. The downside is that user has very minimal control on elements quality except controlling the mesh density using global and local seeding options.

Sweep meshing: This technique is useful when hexahedral elements are needed on solids with minimal geometry editing though this technique is applicable on surfaces as well. The meshing algorithm automatically identifies a source side and a target side on the geometry, it creates a quadrilateral shell mesh on the source side and sweeps those elements to the target side thereby converting them to hexahedral or bricks. The underlying shell mesh is automatically deleted. The downside is some geometry restrictions with respect to source and target side.

Structured meshing: This meshing techniques is useful when high quality hexahedral or near to perfect shell elements are required on solids or surfaces. This technique offers a better mesh control to the user compared to sweep meshing technique. It works by partitioning the complex solids into smaller six or eight sided parametric solids that can be brick meshed. The nodes at the boundaries are automatically fused to ensure connectivity.

Bottom’s up meshing: This is the last approach when all the other meshing techniques fails. It works on the concept of divide and rule. To some extent it resembles sweep meshing but the underlying geometry restrictions are removed.

THE COLOR CODING FEATURE

This is one feature that sets Abaqus CAE apart from other meshing tools available in the market. While doing meshing, user can see either entire part or regions associated with part (in case of partitions) in pre-defined colors. These colors helps in determining which region of the part would be meshed with which meshing technique if the mesh algorithm is executed. The color cold is as follows:

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The process is quite interactive. The orange color is most undesirable as these regions are non-meshable and require further partitions. Once the region is correctly partitioned and subdivided regions become meshable, the color code is updated instantly. What the user needs to see is the combination of greens, yellows and pinks with peach at certain times before executing meshing operation. During meshing, user has option to either mesh one region at a time or the entire part having multiple regions. In case of interfaces having different element topologies on each side such as green with pink or yellow with pink, tie constraints are automatically created at the boundary to ensure mesh connectivity.

Below is an example of a part that has been partitioned to create certain sweep meshable yellow regions where brick elements are needed. The other region is pink with tetrahedral elements associated to it.

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EFFECTIVE PARTITIONING

Transition of orange region to either yellow, green or peach requires intelligent partitioning of surfaces or solids. While there are many such partitioning tools available, achieving desired results with minimum partitions requires some practice in using these tools. Let’s highlight few of these partitioning methods:

Solid partitions:  Six options are available.

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VIRTUAL TOPOLOGY

This is an optional process that may be needed before partitioning and prior to meshing. This is a way to fix bad CAD data. Many times CAD data has more details than needed by the meshing algorithm. This includes very short edges and very small surfaces. Virtual topology offers certain tools to combine such small faces and edges. There is also an option to suppress these small features so that meshing algorithm does not recognize them.

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There was a day when it was unlikely that a company would buy a 3D CAD system without extensively evaluating it.  They required demos, trials, benchmarks, pilot projects and extensive financial ROI analysis.  Are those days gone?  Early in my career, I made a living by simply being able to demonstrate relatively new 3D CAD technology.  These days, a demo is rarely required for purchases of 3D CAD.  Decisions about a company’s core 3D CAD package have generally been previously made, or are now based on data formats of customers or suppliers.

It seems that 3D CAD is simply now an expected part of product development processes and an integral part of PLM in general.  The specific version of 3D CAD doesn’t seem to be nearly as critical as companies previously expected them to be.  Most can now get the job done in small to mid-size companies, with minor differences depending on the specific situation.

There does still seem to be a “pecking order” for the various CAD systems in the manufacturing sector.  The large companies with the broadest set of requirements (and the deepest pockets) generally define the standard.  This includes the Automotive and Aerospace OEMs as an example.  Once they settle on a primary CAD system, many other suppliers base their CAD requirements upon the OEM’s decision.  This doesn’t automatically mean the suppliers choose the same CAD system; just that the supplier needs to be able to communicate and exchange data with the OEM in an efficient manner.  Often times, an automotive supplier will obtain a license or two of the OEM’s chosen CAD software, but it will not be deployed across their entire environment.  The “Top-Tier” CAD that the OEM decided upon may only be used to translate and communicate directly with the OEM, while the bulk of their CAD users might be using a “Mid-Tier” CAD system that is perfectly capable of meeting the supplier’s design requirements.  A host of emerging cloud based CAD technology is also available.

 

So what does this mean to the industry?  Focus on the next thing.  Maybe that is a fully electronic PLM environment, or updated NC or additive manufacturing software.  It could be the adoption of up-front simulation technology to accelerate the design cycle.  There are a lot of things from a technology continuity perspective that can still be addressed once the CAD platform has been settled upon.  Just don’t lose sight of other opportunities for continuous improvement once your CAD house is in order.

With Teamcenter Active Workspace, Siemens PLM purposely chose to focus on specific use case/role support versus just duplicating every functionality of the Teamcenter Rich client.  The initial emphasis has been to provide a zero install client to the broader, and often less frequent users, in the enterprise.  These users require a zero install client that is easy to learn.

With every release of Active Workspace, Siemens PLM continues to broaden the use cases and roles supported in it.  The graphic from left to right shows the usecases/roles already delivered with complete use case support to the ones which are under the works to enable richer application exposure for authoring capabilities. Siemens has also exposed some administration capabilities in Active Workspace such as for user management and a new XRT editor, right inside of the Active Workspace user interface.  Again all with no client install.

Active Workspace User Experience
It’s all about the content .  Active Workspace shifts the focus from the Application to the Content – the User’s data is the most important thing.  The User Interface (UI) is simple, clean, light, and fast. Subdued colors let the user’s creation be the star of the show.

There is a simple top-down, left-to-right flow of information: Who I am and my role is first .What I’m working on is clear and obvious . Data brings with it the right capability for the context – Viewer, Where Used, Attachments, History etc.  One need not know how to open tools – just read the tabs to figure out what’s available. Each tab of content brings the right capability

This part has 3D content and so it has a viewer tab. That tab brings the right viewing commands to work with it. The user focuses on “What” he needs to work on, not the “Tools” to do work. Commands and tabs are smart – they don’t appear when they don’t work or don’t have content. This eliminates the visual clutter .

Active Workspace Framework
The Active Workspace Framework enables consistency and efficiency, both for the end user and the developer. It has established patterns that control where content and features go in the UI. Common elements and modules keep the UI consistent and simplify development. Users learn interaction patterns and see them behave consistently in new areas. 

The display is data driven – what you open to work on controls what information is presented. A jet engine has a 3D Viewer and Trace Links, but a Shampoo bottle has Trade Items and Vendors. The underlying data may be technically the same, but is always presented in terms appropriate for that industry, data, and even the user.

The Abaqus user community knows that computational fluid dynamics module was deprecated in 2017 release of Abaqus CAE. It means that within Abaqus CAE or through standalone Abaqus, it is not possible to perform CFD simulations beyond 2016 release. This has been a subject of criticism among few users. However, its worth mentioning that CFD is still available in Abaqus through 3D Experience platform fluid mechanics analyst (FLA) role. Dassault Systemes has decided to migrate the functionality from standalone products to the platform but it is still in existence. The FLA role is available both on premise as well as on cloud. So what are the value adds of performing CFD through 3DExperience platform!!

No need to create fluid domain 😊

This is a BIG BONANZA because every analyst knows how tough it is to create fluid domain for complex 3D Models. The 3DExperience platform offers a technique called hybrid meshing that has two main advantages. Firstly, it does not require a fluid CAD. The user needs to provide minimum information in terms of geometric features such as faces, planes, face normal etc. so that application can well predict fluid location and boundaries in given part of assembly geometry. Once it is will predicted, it gets well meshed also. Take a simple example: flow between two intersecting pipes. User just need to provide surface normal to two pipes in correct direction as well as three planes for inlet and outlet. With this information FLA user interface can create a bounded region internally on its own. The fluid domain tool helps in selecting respective geometries for parts, regions, openings and boundaries. Just this much information is good enough to proceed with the meshing operation.

 

Good quality hexahedral meshes with perfect boundary layer control 😉

FLA offers hex dominant meshing technique that operates on fluid domain created above. It has two outstanding offerings. First it gives maximum number of hexahedral elements. Yes, hexahedral elements and that too without any partitioning. Second, it is possible to define (and achieve) boundary layer as per user specified criteria. User can define number of layers as well as thickness of layers. Even in transition regions such as location where pipes intersect and geometry abruptly changes, the boundary layer specification is well respected.

 

Lastly, FLA role is the center of attraction of SIMULIA R&D for further enhancements. Dassault Systemes recently acquired two CFD companies named XFlow and Exa. The CFD solver offerings from these two companies work on Lattice Boltzmann principles while the traditional Abaqus CFD solver in 3DExperience work on Navier-Stokes principles. The Lattice Boltzmann based solver is suitable for external and unbounded, high speed transient and compressible flows that has many applications in aerodynamic computations in T&M and A&D industry verticals. These solvers will be integrated in future releases of FLA role or will be available as a new role in 3DExperience platform.

If you have been using Autodesk Inventor for a while you may already know this, but there is a process for migrating Inventor’s “Content Center” libraries.  This should be done to ensure you don’t end up with duplicate parts (file names) for the same fastener, pin or other common part.  When libraries are migrated, it allows the new software version and its updated libraries to recognize that a particular existing component is being placed.  The existing model will be utilized in this case.  If the libraries are not migrated, a whole new set of model files will get created when you start placing component from Content Center in a new version of Inventor.

Here is the general procedure:

  1. Determine where your current style library is located.  It may be in the default location for individual users, or may be in a common location.
  2. Launch the “Autodesk Inventor Style Library Manager”.  This is a separate program in Windows that isn’t started from within Inventor.
  3. In the “Style Library 1” area browse to your old style library that you located in step 1.  It should say that “some style collections need migration”.
  4. Select the Migrate button at the bottom

I also recommend backing up an previous style libraries before migrating them.  There have been various accounts of libraries failing to migrate and becoming corrupted.  Making a backup and testing the migration is imperative if you have extensive modifications in your existing style library.

Users of Dassault Systemes must have seen the following image multiple times in last few years. In this article, I am talking about what this image means from simulation perspective.

 

The image above is the brand logo of Dassault Systemes next generation innovation called 3D Experience platform. This image is called 3D Compass and its four quadrants symbolizes four major offerings  available in an integrated fashion with the platform. The north quadrant symbolizes collaboration, the east quadrant symbolizes 6W Tags, the west quadrant symbolizes designer applications and the south quadrant symbolizes our favorite simulation applications. The idea behind its introduction is very clear from simulation environment.

“BREAK THE SILOS”

The word silos may seem unpleasant to hear at times but that’s exactly how FEA or MBD simulation community has been since many years. These are small departments of very specialized people in large organizations that mostly work in isolation. The reason of working in isolation has been simple and justified till now. The complexity of products these specialists use has been an overwhelming task for other departments such as design, production, marketing, procurement, IT etc. that are a part of overall product lifecycle management. Moreover simulation forms a process of product lifecycle only when a new concept design is launched that has to be virtually tested either to save cost, reduce time or meet certain requirements imposed by regulatory boards such as NHTSA, FAA, FDA etc. This is not always the case.

The 3D Experience platform integrates and brings together all the departments involved in product lifecycle including simulation experts. The integration happens at base level by a data management and collaboration server called ENOVIA that allows users with different roles to create, modify, share, manage or propagate data from one person to other without using share drives, emails or any sort of data migration. In terms of T&M and A&D companies these roles might be product designers, design engineers, manufacturing engineers, FEA specialists, material experts, method developers etc. The platform offers roles for users. Each role is a collection of apps just like we see in our mobile phones. However, in case of 3D Experience platform, these roles are divided in four different categories based on four corners of the 3D Compass. These are 3D Modeling apps, Social and Collaborative apps, information intelligence apps and simulation apps. Few of these apps serve as pre-requisites to any user who wish to be a part of platform. But others such as simulation apps are assigned only to those users who wish to perform simulation.

 

With the 3D Experience platform, a simulation expert works on the same data that is created by a designer to perform simulation without any manual data transfer. No more specialized product formats such as Abaqus CAE, Tosca, fe-safe that have their own file architecture not compatible with designer products such as CATIA, Creo, Solidworks etc. Once the simulation is complete, results are stored in the same database that can be instantly viewed by engineering managers, product designers, R&D head or any user who is not actively using simulation. So no more specialized output file formats such as odb, conf, ldf, stlx etc. A simulation role armored with simulation apps allows a specialist to get into the platform, access the data created by designer, create simulation model in same environment, perform the analysis on user machine or on cluster and publish and share the results. Simple it is! Once the silos are broken, there is yet another aspect of 3D Experience platform that makes it unique in the way it works.

“ELIMINATE FILE BASED FOLDERS FROM THE SYSTEM”

Everything created or imported in the platform is saved within the ENOVIA collaboration server. The data can reside either on-premise or on-cloud based on chosen architecture. The user can search or access the data using advanced 6W Tags search criteria based on questions such as who, what, when, where, which etc. In case of cloud based architecture, this data can be assessed and modified from anywhere using devices such as smart phones or ipads. Can your smart phone read Abaqus odb files! The answer is perhaps no but yet it is possible to access Abaqus output data on smart phones using 3D experience platform.

Typically when new software releases come out, there are always a few really key improvements that really stand out.  Many times, it is a cool new modeling feature, or maybe an entirely new approach to design.  In Inventor, this might be like the addition of Freeform Modeling or Direct Editing as examples.  Unfortunately these are features or techniques that might not be applicable to many users.

If you are using both Autodesk Inventor and Vault together however, you should probably pay attention to this one:  The Vault status icons in the “recently used” area.  These icons now clearly identify the current Vault status of one of your recent files when in the Inventor “Open” dialog box.  Is the file checked out?  Is the file checked in, and up to date in my workspace? Has someone else modified the file since I last worked on it?  Have I checked in my latest development ideas or new parts yet?  All of these can be determined simply by noticing the Vault status bubbles in the “Open” dialog box.

Vault Status Icons

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