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Computer-aided engineering (CAE) is the broad usage of computer software to aid in engineering analysis tasks. It includes Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Multibody dynamics (MBD), and optimization.
Software tools that have been developed to support these activities are considered CAE tools. CAE tools are being used, for example, to analyze the robustness and performance of components and assemblies. The term encompasses simulation, validation, and optimization of products and manufacturing tools. In the future, CAE systems will be major providers of information to help support design teams in decision making. Computer-aided engineering is used in many fields such as automotive, aviation, space, and shipbuilding industries.
CAE systems can provide support to businesses. This is achieved by the use of reference architectures and their ability to place information views on the business process. Reference architecture is the basis from which information model, especially product and manufacturing models.
The term CAE has also been used by some in the past to describe the use of computer technology within engineering in a broader sense than just engineering analysis. It was in this context that the term was coined by Jason Lemon, founder of SDRC in the late 1970s. This definition is however better known today by the terms CAx and PLM.
CAE fields and phases
CAE areas covered include:
- Stress analysis on components and assemblies using Finite Element Analysis (FEA);
- Thermal and fluid flow analysis Computational fluid dynamics (CFD);
- Multibody dynamics (MBD) and Kinematics;
- Analysis tools for process simulation for operations such as casting, molding, and die press forming.
- Optimization of the product or process.
In general, there are three phases in any computer-aided engineering task:
- Pre-processing – defining the model and environmental factors to be applied to it. (typically a finite element model, but facet, voxel and thin sheet methods are also used)
- Analysis solver (usually performed on high powered computers)
- Post-processing of results (using visualization tools)
This cycle is iterated, often many times, either manually or with the use of commercial optimization software.
CAE in the automotive industry
CAE tools are very widely used in the automotive industry. In fact, their use has enabled the automakers to reduce product development cost and time while improving the safety, comfort, and durability of the vehicles they produce. The predictive capability of CAE tools has progressed to the point where much of the design verification is now done using computer simulations rather than physical prototype testing. CAE dependability is based upon all proper assumptions as inputs and must identify critical inputs (BJ). Even though there have been many advances in CAE, and it is widely used in the engineering field, physical testing is still used as a final confirmation for subsystems due to the fact that CAE cannot predict all variables in complex assemblies (i.e. metal stretch, thinning).
- Computer representation of surfaces
- Finite element analysis (FEA/FEM)
- Computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
- Computational electromagnetics (CEM)
- Multibody dynamics (MBD)
- Electronic design automation (EDA)
- Multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO)
- Comparison of CAD editors for CAE
- Virtual prototyping
- B. Raphael and I.F.C. Smith (2003). Fundamentals of computer aided engineering. John Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-48715-9.
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