- since 1996 -
|NDT.net Issue - 2007-10 - NEWS |
|October 8, 2007 --- The latest release of the well-known electromagnetic simulation
tool, Opera, adds sophisticated model parameterisation and scripting capabilities.
These facilities make it much simpler to perform 'what if?' investigations, to speed
up the virtual prototyping of electromagnetic equipment. Every variant of Vector
Fields' new Opera release, version 12, from the lowest-cost 2-dimensional simulation
package to the full 3-dimensional modelling suite, benefits from these features. A
breakthrough tool for optimisation is also optionally available, which will
automatically seek the best solution for single or competing goals.
Opera is available in numerous variants, with generic 2D and 3D finite element analysis (FEA) solvers for static and time-varying electromagnetic fields, and with application-specific solvers for design work involving rotating machinery, superconducting magnets, particle beams, dielectric insulation, and magnetisation/demagnetisation processes. The latest release extends the performance of many of these solvers to enhance simulation fidelity and speed.
"Opera's integrated design-simulate-optimise toolchain allows organisations to reach the optimal solution much faster - eliminating the huge cost associated with physical design iteration cycles. The incredible amount of intellectual property built into this toolsuite can cut months from the most challenging of projects," says Vector Fields' Dr Kevin Ward.
Available for over three decades, Opera is one of the most widely used electromagnetic design tools on the market, and is renowned for its accuracy of simulation, and efficient execution - allowing complex problems to be solved rapidly on desktop PCs. Opera v12 provides users with integrated design-simulate-optimise tools to create design models, simulate electromagnetic behaviour (and optionally related physics including temperature and mechanical stress), post-process results, and iterate the concept to reach the optimal solution.
Component or system models can be imported from CAD programs, or generated using a powerful, built-in, geometric modeller built around the industry-standard ACIS geometry engine. To enhance design process efficiency, models may now be parameterised using variables, making it simple to refine ideas. Users can quickly change parameter values in a model and view effects, or macros can be built to automate complicated design tasks. A related enhancement is the availability of a 'parameterised history stream', allowing models to be easily modified and replayed. This makes it easy to save portions of a complete model, as script-like short cuts for designers who regularly create variations of products, such as electric motor stators or recording heads. A further time saving feature comes in the form of adaptive FEA meshing, which allows users to employ the most efficient resolution for the accuracy of solution required.
Users can purchase Opera with a wide range of solvers to simulate electromagnetic behaviour. There are three generic solvers available depending on the application, for modelling static, and low-frequency or high frequency time varying fields. These are available in both two- or three-dimensional versions, to suit the design need and budget. Application-specific variants are also available. These cater for applications including rotating electrical machinery, the magnetisation/demagnetisation of permanent magnets, the simulation of 'quench' phenomena in superconducting magnets, space charge effects of particle beams, a solver for modelling insulation properties of semiconducting materials, plus extensions to incorporate temperature and mechanical stress effects, and electrical circuits and mechanical loads.
Several of these solvers are radically improved in Opera v12. As an example, the rotating machinery solver features two major enhancements to simplify electric motor and generator design, a skew modelling facility to enhance the accuracy of designs that employ skewed magnetic fields to reduce 'cogging' torque, and a means to greatly speed the simulation of large machines by simulating just a segment of a symmetrical design. This latter facility, combined with operation on today's 64-bit PCs, can reduce simulation times to hours or even minutes for very complex designs.
When simulation is complete, Opera includes a purpose-designed post-processor that simplifies analysis of results. As well as displaying electromagnetic field quantities, numerous functions are available to prepare and display results in forms and units familiar to the user - such as forces, power loss, and stored energy.
For the most demanding applications, Opera v12 introduces an option that is believed to be a first in the electromagnetic modelling marketplace. Optimisation of designs may now be performed automatically using a new tool called Optimiser - an advanced auto-optimisation tool designed specifically to work with finite element methods and to support competing goals.
Unlike current attempts at auto-optimisation, this tool incorporates a number of algorithmic techniques including stochastic, descent, Pareto and Kriging that are automatically selected and managed depending on the problem, and which are able to work out the best solution for one or multiple goals - even when goals compete with each other. Conceived, designed and created by Vector Fields in partnership with Southampton University, UK - this unique tool can save an enormous amount of the design effort normally needed to realise a company's design goals, whether they are lowest cost, highest performance, simplest manufacture or other parameter, or optimal combinations.
This is especially the case for complex designs involving many degrees of freedom, where the combination of Opera and Optimiser can easily pay for itself on the first project. Delivering this powerful facility has necessitated substantial additions to Opera's underlying structure, demonstrating Vector Fields' commitment to remain at the vanguard of electromagnetic simulation.
"Globalisation is placing unprecedented pressure on the world's 'traditional' design and manufacturing communities. In this extremely competitive environment, there's no doubt that design excellence is going to be a fundamental element of future survival and growth. For any electromagnetic-related equipment, Opera gives users the assistance of hundreds of man-years of know-how to fuel creativity," adds Ward.
Opera v12 is available in around 20 variants, starting from around £5000, with discounts for educational or research establishments. More details can be found at: http://www.vectorfields.com.
Vector Fields Ltd, 24 Bankside, Kidlington, Oxford OX5 1JE, UK
Vector Fields, Inc., 1700 N Farnsworth Ave Aurora, IL 60505, USA
Vector Fields is a Cobham group company. Cobham plc is an international company engaged in the development, delivery and support of advanced aerospace and defence systems for land, sea and air platforms. The company has five technology divisions and one in the service sector that collectively specialise in the provision of components, subsystems and services that keep people safe, improve communications and enhance the performance of aerospace and defence platforms.