Among the hottest frontiers in engineering technology today is generative design. This fast-advancing class of software accelerates and automates product concept engineering as well as detail design, and in particular helps engineers lightweight part designs by optimizing them for additive manufacturing.
One of the latest such solutions is MSC Apex Generative Design, which the company characterizes as a “fully automated generative design solution built on the most intuitive CAE environment in the world, MSC Apex”—a somewhat extravagant-sounding claim, but if not “the most,” still one of only a very small handful of full-powered CAE solutions usable by engineers without recourse to the specialized (and typically overworked, behind-schedule) analysis department. “It exploits all the easy-to-use and easy-to-learn features of MSC Apex while employing an innovative generative design engine in the background. Thus, it dramatically decreases the effort required in the design optimization workflow.”
MSC ticks off the software’s highlights:
Simplicity—“No expert knowledge required for conducting optimizations through a highly user-focused software design.”
Automated design—“Almost automatically generate multiple smoothed design candidates that all satisfy the design criteria while minimizing the weight.”
Import and validation—“Import existing geometries or mesh, find optimized design candidates, and perform design validation – all inside a single CAE environment.”
Direct output—“Export geometry that can be directly manufactured and used immediately without manual rework.”
One process—“Import the resulting geometries in Simufact Additive or Digimat AM to achieve cost-efficient first-time-right result for every part.”
“One solution: Modeling and optimization”
MSC Apex Generative Design “leverages the practical Apex modeler functionalities,” MSC says. “The CAE-specific direct modeling enables very fast and user-friendly model setup. The solution features sophisticated and interactive tools that are easy to use and easy to learn. With Apex Modeler, CAD data at any complexity can be used as input for preparing the optimization, or you can start right from scratch. CAD manipulation for defining design and non-design spaces is lean and smooth; the data can easily be adapted to the requirements. Different variations can be tried out and compared in a single integrated software environment. The division of conception, construction and calculation is set free: it is all integrated in one solution—MSC Apex Generative Design.”
How does it work?
MSC Apex Generative Design’s “innovative approach has been proven in practice,” according to the company. At the heart of MSC Apex Generative Design is its “Generative Design Engine.” This is based on finite element analysis but, unlike traditional methods, “does not use a density field, but rather utilizes a very fine mesh with well defined elements. This enables the algorithm to directly evaluate the occurring stresses, as well as reliably derive distinct geometries that are truly unimaginable by the human mind.” MSC adds, “From the design space to a final geometry, it’s incredibly fast!”
Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) without expert knowledge
MSC Apex Generative Design is “designed specifically to generate the detailed and highly complex structures that only additive processes can manufacture,” MSC says. “The optimized designs exhibit perfect transitions between structure elements such as struts and shells, as well as containing usually self-supporting structures” that ensure the results can be sent straight to print.
However, in cases where further manufacturing and design validation are necessary, MSC Apex Generative Design is interoperable with the company’s Simufact Additive, Digimat AM, and MSC Nastran.
- No expert knowledge required—optimization is highly automated.
- Multiple design candidates generated based on optimization settings.
- The results are always smooth and tailored for a direct Additive Manufacturing production.
- Interoperability for validation of mechanical integrity and manufacturability.
- Cost savings through a much more efficient and innovative process of product design.
What users say
“With the ease of use and optimization speed, we see MSC Apex Generative Design as a game changer for EDAG. We can now generate even more lightweight designs in a fraction of the time. This efficiency really pushes our product development.”—Lucas Epperlein, EDAG Engineering GmbH
“To be more cost-efficient, a redesign was absolutely necessary. With MSC Apex Generative Design 2020, we were able to show that printing time and costs can be significantly reduced with a volume reduction so that we are now much more competitive.”—Dr. Martin Laher, Miba Sinter Group