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  • Writer's pictureMatthias Bringezu

ALTAIR Technology Conference Australia New Zealand 2018

Last Friday ALTAIR hosted their 3rd Technology Conference Australia and New Zealand – ATCx 2018

Altair is a leading provider of engineering software, specialising in simulation solutions. The disciplines range from motion, structures, fluid dynamics, thermal management, electromagnetic behaviour, system modelling and embedded systems. All this combined with data analytics, true-to-life visualisation and rendering. It may sound a little dry, but it is pretty exciting when looking at the actual applications.

[This post is not aiming to be a complete summary of the entire day]

The venue was the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, a place with maritime engineering history and also fantastic views on Melbournes beach front.

Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron in Saint Kilda

The panel of speakers came from from different industries including the Australian Defense Material Science Group (DSTG). The speakers were presenting on applications of simulation software ranging from super high-rise architecture to race-yacht design for the Americas Cup and from electromagnetics to metal Additive Manufacturing. All these industries are using simulation software to predict performance under different load cases with Finite Element Analysis (FEA), calculate flow behaviour with computed fluid dynamics software (CFD), analyse and optimise dynamic-behaviour of mechanical systems which are all still in the design phase. In summary, it is the modern engineers tool-box to optimise designs for performance enhancement and cost savings.

Here a few highlights of the day.

Pavan Kumar welcoming the attendees

The first two speakers were from ALTAIR Pavan Kumar, Vice President-South Asia & Managing Director-Australia and Rajneesh Shinde, Senior Director-Marketing APAC. Pavan Kumar welcomed the about 80 attendees and addressed current trends and developments in the industry.

The first speaker from industry was Brett Ellis, Director, Ellis Engineered

Brett presented on “High-Performance Yacht Design and Engineering for the America’s Cup” Explaining the efforts it takes to build competitive race yachts for one of the most prestige yacht races in the world. Who would have thought that an America Cup Team has about 120 staff and budgets exceeding USD 80 million. Bretts talk focussed on hydro foiling daggerboards, which were introduced to the America’s Cup in recent years. These winglet-like foils provide the lift for the yachts to push their hulls out of the water, reducing drag and enabling speeds up to 45 knots. These carbon fibre composite Daggerboards are great examples for the use of simulation software. Computed Fluid Dynamic Software(CFD) is used to optimise the flow-behaviour. But at the same time, the daggerboards need to be mechanically integer to bear the high loads. To simulate loads and mechanical behaviour Finite Element Analysis software (FEA) was used. But Brett showed also images and video of the mechanical testing conducted to verify their computer models. Further, he explained that the composite parts were equipped with fibre-optics for health monitoring of the boards. Latest by then everyone understood why Brett referred to the America’s Cup with the ‘F1 of the oceans’.

America’s Cup Yachts with Daggerboards

Luca Frattari, Business Development Director-AEC at Altair Luca’s presentation had the title: “Exploring the intersection of Simulation and Design First of all, Luca shared his understanding of a truly innovative product. Explaining it has to be recyclable, sustainable and repairable. A great angle on sustainability. Further, Luca showed how a simulation can be a powerful cost saver in construction industry. He said it is easy to save a two digit million amount in the construction of a skyscraper. Just by optimising the aerodynamics through simulation of wind loadings and improving the load structure to a more efficient design, requiring less steel.

CFD model of wind on a skyscraper

Luca continued, sharing an example how even on a ‘lower level’ simulations can be used in construction. By optimising the design of aluminium extrusion profiles which hold glass elements. A simple simulation can save vast amounts of material, resulting in lower the cost of production.

Topology Optimisation and validation of an aluminium extrusion bracket

Mike Brown, Managing Director of Renishaw Oceania presented on Design for metal Additive Manufacturing (AM). Mike started with a brief introduction of the company RENISHAW Plc. Founded in England by a former RollsRoyce engineer the company the company has a long engineering history. Mike explained that the company makes huge commitments to maintain their competitive edge by investing 14% – 18% of their turnover into research and development. So RENISHAW is playing a significant role in different markets. Since the acquisition of MTT Technologies Limited, RENISHAW is also a manufacturer of laser based powder bed fusion (LPBF) systems. This enabled the company to access and grow in even more markets like in medtech and dental. Mike explained that RENISHAW has become the market leader for laser powder bed fusion systems in Australia and New Zealand. With 15 installed systems and counting, RENISHAW is far ahead of all the other metal AM machine manufacturers in the ANZ market. [ But it should be pointed out that this number is disproportional to the international market, which is still dominated by Electro optical Systems (EOS) in total numbers]

Mike Brown from RENISHAW sharing his lightbulb moments in metal AM

Mike shared his personal view on metal AM technologies and pointed out that he doesn’t see metal AM as a technology providing end-use parts in one step. He added, that he also expect to see this to change any time soon. Surfaces of parts straight out of the machine needs post machining, a lot of parts also require heat treatments to release residual stress. So metal AM should be seen a process step in a production process rather than a one step solution. But Mike wanted to share his personal ‘lightbulb moments’ in metal AM. Moments when understanding the strengths of laser metal AM and realising the full potential. For example thinking of a hydraulic valve-block as a system of tubes, rather than a block of metal with connected channels. Injection moulding tools with conforming cooling channels close to the surface for higher cooling rates to increase the output. Highly complex designs, reducing the part-count / bill of material. Parts like the collimator-head of a newest Renishaw PBF / SLM system. But Mike added another example and actually ‘blamed’ me sitting in the audience. Back in 2011, I was working at RMIT University when Mike visited the Advanced Manufacturing Precinct  (AMP). That was when I showed Mike a titanium ring. A beautiful design from NERVOUS SYSTEM called the Regular bracelet. NERVOUS had shared this design on the internet platform Thingiverse. That was where I downloaded the design and printed it off in Titanium, scaled down as fingering. Mike was so fascinated by its complex and lightweight structure that this was one of his very first ‘light-bulb moments in AM’. So thanks for sharing that story.

Mike also made the point that software is a key enabler to the real potential of metal AM. So he asked everyone to reach into the goodie-bag which we received at the registration in the morning. So everyone had a closer look at the bottle opener keychain. This fancy little gadget was topology-optimised, made of titanium and had a mirror polish finish. 

A beautiful example of what is possible when simulation software is combined with Selective Laser Melting, a high strength titanium alloy and the right post processing technologies.  

The afternoon continued with interesting presentations from Tony Gray from ALTAIR on Simulation Driven Design. Providing some nice sneak peaks on the new features in the new SolidThinking suite. Ben Michelfelder presented on the German AM machine manufacturerElectroOptical Systems better known as EOS and the Geelong based company CONFLUX Technology. Ben is working for both companies as EOS is not only the provider of CONFLUX equipment but also an investor though their investment arm called AM Ventures. Timothy Banks Engineer at Melbourne based medical company OMX Solutions presented on patient specific medical solutions (more about OMX in our Blogpost Adoption and Diffusion of Disruptive Technologies: ‘The Case of Additive Manufacturing in MedTech’). The final presenter was Dennis Savic from Savic Motorcycles showcasing how his company is using simulation software. What followed was a networking session. Summed up it was very well organised event with very interesting presentations. I am already looking forward to the next event.

written by Matthias Bringezu

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