Jean Thilmany • Contributing Editor
Neither Comsol multiphysics software itself nor its application builder will see extensive changes this year, Svante Littmarck, Comsol’s president and CEO, told attendees at the company’s 2015 user conference.
Instead, the multiphysics simulation company has been focused on making the graphical user interface of the soon-to-be-released Comsol version 5.2 easier to use, and on adding many new already developed apps to the application library. Analysts can choose from those existing apps for use at their companies or can use an existing app to launch development of their own Comsol applications, Littmarck said.
Beyond application building, the Comsol software’s multiphysics capabilities allow analysts and experts to simulate and solve for two or more physical phenomena that act on a model at the same time. With application builder, on the other hand, Comsol users—often specialized, high-level experts and analysts—can convert versions of their simulation models into simplified applications that run on Comsol server software in either a corporate network or in the cloud. These applications can also be accessed through mobile devices.
Through use of the simplified application, employees from other departments, clients, or customers can specify their own parameters when simulating and solving, Littmarck said.
The software developer introduced application builder last year and upgraded it in 2015 with the intention of helping companies communicate across departments while the simulation expert who created the application maintains control, enforces quality standards, and ensures results can be trusted, according to Comsol.
Examples of the applications that can be built are as far ranging as the multiple physical effects the software can jointly simulate and solve for, said Bernt Nilsson, SVP of marketing at Comsol. For example, engineers and technicians at Peab Asfalt AB, of Sweden, which produces and lays asphalt, use simulation apps to test a piece of asphalt’s material properties to determine if road repairs are needed.
Conventional methods for determining stiffness and other material properties require lengthy and expensive physical testing, said Anders Gudmarsson, Peab research and development manager. But the application, created by the Peab research and development department, can be run using samples of any size, and results are available within hours, he added. The simulation calculates the asphalt’s stiffness to determine if it has the ideal stiffness for continued use.
“We wanted to make this technique available on a wider scale in a way that would allow laboratory technicians to make decisions based on the results,” Gudmarsson said.
Another example came from Cypress Semiconductor Corp. of Framingham, Mass., which develops smartphone touchscreens. Cypress research and development engineers have created simplified applications from their own, advanced simulations. The advanced simulations include those for touchscreen patterns, which can be customized for a range of products by updating model parameters, said Peter Vavaroutsos, a member of the Cypress touchscreen modeling group.
The Cypress support team can call up a simplified touchscreen-pattern application and update model parameters to show to customers various touchscreen possibilities, Vavaroutsos said.
The application builder tool cuts costs for Comsol users, like Cypress and Peab Asphalt, because a license for the former is much less expensive than a Comsol license, Littmarck told conference attendees. The specially built applications save time for the simulation and analysis team, as they no longer need to stop their work to run models for customers and other departments, he added.
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