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5 Software Applications FE Analysts Use to Model Complex Systems in the Cloud


August 25, 2020

Finite element (FE) analysts transitioning from desktop applications to cloud-based workflows must choose the simulation software that best fits their needs. FE software developers are continually updating their software to include more efficient numerical methods, improve algorithms geared towards simulating complex systems, and adding customization to their tools so that the software is at its full capability. 

While the adage borrowed from statistics states that “All models are wrong, but some are useful” still applies to the FE modeling world. Increasingly complex systems can be modeled today due to the advances that HPC cloud-based software offer. Some of the most commonly used commercial simulation software that can be found today on the cloud are discussed next.

Ansys simulation software cloud

Multiphysics Software Suite from Ansys

Ansys is one of the most popular FE software vendors that has truly embraced the network-parallel computing method. 

With an overabundance of FE tools managed by the Workbench container, the user can benefit from multifield, such as structural, fluid, and electromagnetic analysis, with good accuracy, including at nanoscale level.  The modular approach to setting up Multiphysics that includes scripting and journaling options makes simulation easy and intuitive even for a novice user.  It also allows a seamless flow of information between modules facilitating coupled analysis for complex systems.

The Ansys software suite is easy to control through command scripts, catering to industry users who need speed and accuracy for complex systems. Some of the limitations include high cost due to separate licenses needed for each module and limited Widows-Linux portability on some of their modules.

Multiphysics Software from COMSOL

Multiphysics Software from COMSOL

COMSOL is a comprehensive simulation software environment that benefits from the popularity of MATLAB, especially in the field of scientific research.

As a structured software, COMSOL is user-friendly, transparent in its underlying formulations, and highly customizable. Its ability to solve complex problems under the same graphical all-in-one multiphysics user interface and monolithic approach to the simulation environment makes it suitable for basic research and development. 

OpenFOAM Computational Fluid Dynamics software from OpenFOAM Foundation

OpenFOAM is a free, open source CFD software that offers experienced developers and analysts a viable alternative to commercial software. 

Developed mainly in C/C++, OpenFOAM delivers excellent performance in an HPC environment. While many users may prefer commercial software due to convenience and validation, OpenFOAM is an excellent choice for companies with a limited budget but still want reliable results. 

OpenFOAM is professionally released twice a year, independently tested, and has a plethora of simulation modules such as complex flow and turbulence acoustics. It also has several mesh engines that can capture the details required to solve complex problems. The FE analyst has access to its source code and can tailor it to their use case without the need for a license. The software can easily be controlled from the Linux prompt and can use ParaView or Visual-CFD for excellent post-processing. 

SIMULIA Abaqus from Dassault Systèmes

Abaqus is another FE software recognized for its superior structural analysis formulations and results, especially in contact modeling and fatigue. 

Abaqus has greater penetration in the automotive industry, while Ansys is a popular tool in the energy vertical. Abaqus offers an excellent API, so the user does not need to worry about its database structure. It features modules bundled into one single license, a mesh engine tailored towards structural analysis, an excellent solid mechanics foundation, and material libraries. If your budget is limited and you focus on structural analysis, Abaqus may be the best solution for you.

STAR-CCM+ Computational Fluid Dynamics Software from Siemens

STAR CCM+ is a specialized CFD software that offers a clean, modern interface and is available for both Windows and Linux HPC cloud without significant differences.

A CFD analyst can access the pre-processing, simulation, and post-processing tasks from this interface with minimal effort. As a CFD software, STAR CCM+ does not have many flaws. 

STAR CCM+ has excellent pre-processing tools such as geometry cleaning and optimized meshing capability, superior simulation and post-processing tools, and a reasonable cost through POD license keys. The above benefits make it very comparable to Fluent, a popular industry choice.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, we know that choosing the right tool depends on many factors.  Problems to solve, validation, learning curve, and cost could be a few of these factors. The best software is the one that you, as a FE analyst, know how to use, fits your needs and your budget.

The FE software applications mentioned above are all available on the Nimbix Cloud. Contact us to learn more.

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