CIMdata PLM Industry Summary Online Archive

20 September 2004

Product News

VISTAGY Announces FiberSIM 5.0 Software for Composites Design

VISTAGY, Inc. announced its plans for releasing version 5.0 of its FiberSIM® software. General availability is scheduled for the middle of the fourth quarter of this year. The software allows engineers working with computer-aided-design (CAD) systems to design products made of strong, lightweight, composite materials. FiberSIM 5.0 features an all new Advanced Composite Engineering EnvironmentT that automates many of the repetitive design, simulation, and manufacturing tasks peculiar to working with composites.

Engineers who work with composite materials often create parts with hundreds of plies. Defining each ply requires complex materials data and lay-up specifications. Traditionally, this information is all entered manually, which is a time-consuming and error-prone task. The new automation tools in FiberSIM 5.0 reduce the potential for error and, by speeding the design process, leave engineers free to focus their expertise on design innovation, process selection, and part quality.

There are four main categories of new functionality in FiberSIM 5.0:

•  Zone based design for defining laminate specifications and requirements. In practice, engineers often design composite parts by analyzing the part and breaking it down into regions with the same structural properties. These regions are referred to as zones. FiberSIM 5.0 now supports this preliminary part design phase by providing users with flexible ways to create zones and material specifications that define the requirements of the part within the 3D CAD model. FiberSIM supports the notions of tiled and overlay zones, and allows specification of hybrid materials to accommodate composite part design. Once the requirements for the zones have been defined, plies can be automatically generated. The plies take on the characteristics of their zones, such as boundary, material, and orientation, resulting in time-savings over the manual method of defining laminates.
•  Dynamically generating zone transitions and ply boundaries. FiberSIM 5.0's tools for preliminary design include the ability to specify how ply boundaries are to be dropped-off or staggered from one zone into another. Users can control the ply offset profile to create complex transitions between zones. FiberSIM dynamically generates virtual ply boundaries that are associated with the zone transition information and the ply sequence. FiberSIM no longer requires the creation of ply boundary geometry in the CAD model. This approach allows users to accurately define zone-based laminates and greatly increases the ability to modify ply sequences within the laminate by automatically recomputing ply boundaries based on the transition specification. Manual redefinition of all the ply boundary geometry is no longer required, resulting in significant time-savings over previous methods.
•  Generating variable offset surfaces. One of the advantages of designing with composites is that plies of material can be placed precisely where they are needed. To minimize overall part weight, only the portion of a part that must withstand the most stress can be designed to be thicker, thus stronger, than other portions. The resulting surface created by the built-up plies varies in thickness. Tasks that require accurate representation of these surfaces, such as creating mockup solids and inner mold lines, were previously done manually. VISTAGY's new Variable Surface Offset TechnologyT generates variable offset surfaces for plies in the CAD model. Engineers using this technology can automatically account for manufacturing tolerances and ply thicknesses when generating mockup surfaces for interference checking, mating surfaces that model where two parts join together, and tooling surfaces for manufacturing.
•  Smart darting and splicing. In previous versions of FiberSIM, the engineer needed to define each dart and splice in a ply manually, though there was some automation involved. Inserting a new ply meant redefining all the staggered darts and splices in the sequence after it by hand. In FiberSIM 5.0, the engineer defines the darts and splices in the first ply, then defines the rules by which darts and splices are staggered. The software then populates subsequent plies with the appropriate darts and splices, staggered to specification. The smart darting and splicing tools automatically update the staggering if an additional ply is inserted into the laminate, greatly simplifying redesign and saving engineering time.

FiberSIM is a suite of software that turns major CAD systems into advanced tools for designing and manufacturing composite parts. The software enables engineers to create a complete digital product definition of a composite part within their 3D modeling environment. FiberSIM automates design and analysis and generates manufacturing information including documentation, flat patterns, and data to drive laser projectors, automated cutters and fiber placement machines. FiberSIM uses XML technology to share composites data with people and applications throughout the enterprise, such as software for procurement, quality assurance, cost modeling and manufacturing.


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