Improving the Reliability of Consumer Electronics Products Through Realistic Simulation

By Harish

Realistic simulation for Electronic products

Early product failures and product recalls are very costly. They result in loss of revenue, litigation, and brand devaluation among others. Hardware recalls are often costlier than software recalls as software patches can be easily downloaded and installed once flaws come to light. But recalls and early product failures tend to happen over and over again. Why? Because engineering teams are constantly under the gun to improve product performance, reduce form factors, and reduce time to market, all while cutting costs. In order to mitigate risk engineers need to develop a deeper understanding of the product behavior under real operating conditions and quickly evaluate design trade-offs based on overall system behavior.

Physical tests provide an excellent means to understand product behavior. However, physical testing is expensive and time consuming. Simulation provides a cheaper and faster alternative to physical tests. It is critical to strike the right balance between physical tests and simulation during product development. In order to get the maximum bang for your buck, simulations should be deployed starting early in the design cycle when physical prototypes are not available and the design is not fully developed. The earlier you find flaws, the earlier you can fix them. Since the cost of fixing flaws grows exponentially through the design cycle (figure below), identifying and fixing design flaws early in the design cycle is super critical.

Relative Cost of fixing errors in embedded Systems

Relative cost of fixing errors in embedded systems

Not all simulation tools are created equal. You don’t need any answer. You need the right answer. For that, you need simulation tools that most closely depict reality. And you need answers fast. Hence you need product testing and validation tools with industry leading physics and solver technology to obtain accurate solutions faster in order to help you improve product design, ensure product reliability and reduce time to market. Accurate depiction of material behavior and physics of failure are essential to obtaining realistic results. Such capabilities are critical in predicting the behavior of materials such as glass, adhesives, and polymers that have high propensity for damage.

Consumer electronic products, especially mobile and portable devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, are subjected to a variety of operating conditions. The devices need to be designed to protect them from damage. Engineers need to ensure that “portable” doesn’t mean “breakable.”

Tablet drop

The challenge is to design a light-weight product that can withstand not just the loading cycles associated with regular usage, but also abusive loading scenarios that are encountered less frequently (According to surveys and insurance claim statistics, drop and water damage constitute the two most frequent causes of damage for mobile devices.). Simulation should be employed at the ideation, product development, and failure analysis stages in order to improve product quality and reduce time to market. Refer to this  case study to learn how a leading manufacturer of consumer electronics used simulation to improve the keystroke feel and to enhance frame rigidity while reducing weight .

Tablet drop simulation

While drop during daily usage is a concern for mobile devices, transportation drops are the main concern for office equipment. The engineers are faced with the challenge of identifying the structural members that are most susceptible to damage and to improve their damage resistance while reducing the overall weight of the structure. Refer to the ebook below to know how a leading manufacturer of office equipment designed a low cost printer that can withstand a series of transportation drop tests.

The examples above provide a snapshot of applications leveraging SIMULIA Abaqus technology   to successfully improve product durability while satisfying other constraints such as weight and cost.

More example related to  how engineering teams are using virtual testing to predict stresses, optimize design performance and reduce time to market can be read in  this ebook .

CRESCENDO: tuning up the Behavioural Digital Aircraft

By Aurelien

Following up my previous post from Farnborough, I would like to further the focus on the passenger experience as an important trend of the future of the Aerospace industry. Now think about it: what could you experience with anything that is static? Not much, really. Any experience in real life involves interaction, and feedback on how your surroundings BEHAVE with respect to your interaction.

Well, it goes the same when it comes to virtual universes. A couple decades ago, a 3D Digital-Mockup (3D DMU) was fine to see how the whole product (say an aircraft in that case) would look like, yet that was pretty much static. Of course, virtual simulation (especially materials resistance) could be performed as well, but the processes were not really tied together. In order to get a holistic understanding of the behavior of an aircraft, you need to be able to design and simulate at the same time.

This combination is exactly the scope of a large European project, called “Collaborative & Robust Engineering using Simulation Capability Enabling Next Design Optimisation” aka CRESCENDO (now THAT’s what I call an acronym :o ). The project, coordinated by Airbus, gathers 59 partners (companies, research centers, universities — see the full list below) accross 13 countries to develop what Behavioural Digital Aircraft (BDA).

BDA focuses in particular on the following use cases:

  • Thermal Aircraft addresses the challenges of increasingly hotter equipments (e.g. electronics equipements, hot air exhausts), from the simulation of those equipments up to the global thermal trade-offs at the whole aircraft level
  • Powerplant Integration is a multi-disciplinary approach of the thermal and structural challenges of the propulsion engines
  • Energy Aircraft is about energy systems engineering from the preliminary tests up to final certification

If you’re interested in knowing more about CRESCENDO, check this out.

Many thanks to Delphine Zinck, A&D Industry Solution Experience Specialist, who let me know about this on-going project! :)

Professor Plum with the Wrench? Abaqus FEA Knows

By Tim

No, it’s not the famous game “Clue”. It’s the use of realistic simulation to perform forensic studies of skull fracture.

While, for the average person it is a bit gruesome to think about, medical examiners and police investigators are often faced with the need to determine how and why skull fractures occur.

Was the head injury caused by an accident or was the injury caused with the intent to murder the victim?

Researchers at the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Copenhagen, in cooperation with the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), are using using technology from Simpleware (a SIMULIA partner) to transfer CT-scan data into SIMULIA’s Abaqus FEA software.  This allows them to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanics and forces that cause severe skull injuries.

While the researchers consider their current studies as preliminary, these represent a critical step on the path to developing a general tool for supporting medical examiners with easy, achievable and accurate numerical simulation to support their judgment regarding the cause of death.

To get more details, check out the complete case study in the latest issue of INSIGHTS magazine  here.

Are you as surprised as I am that Abaqus FEA software (traditionally used to study the performance of mechanical systems in cars and airplanes) is being used in forensic head injury research?

Tim



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