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How Does Numerical Optimization Work?

Engineering simulation and numerical optimization provide several advantages during the development of a new product or the improvement of an existing product.

Using these tools as early as possible in the design process allows you:

  • To identify, understand and solve several potential issues at a time, in the design stages, where changes are easily implementable with minimal financial implications.
  • To converge faster towards an optimal solution and to identify design possibilities and impossibilities
  • To consider and analyze a multitude of design variables simultaneously, in order to achieve an optimal solution that meetsing complex, and often opposed design requirements (Example: Achieve the lightest possible structure, but also the stiffest for a wide rangelarge number of loading conditions).
  • To evaluate a large quantity of data leading to insightful design decisions. Alternatively, data acquisition is relatively expansive, which means that only a few data points need to can  be measured during physical tests.
  • To consider complex or destructive loading conditions, which would be difficult to test or control ion real-time physical tests on prototypes (Eexample: extreme wind loads, fatigue, loads that would break the prototype).

To fully benefit from the advantages of numerical optimization, it is crucial to have a solid understanding good knowledge of the expected performance requirements of the products. Forgetting a loading mode or  a requirement could have major consequences on the optimized design, since the algorithm will targetaim at the optimalum solution to the problem, based on the defined boundaries.

Moreover, although optimization certainly yield produces innovative solutions, the resulting solution can often be difficult or expeansive to manufacture. To avoid this issue, the optimization tools usually include manufacturing constraints that can be added to the problem, in order to guide the solution towards results that are best more suited for the conventional manufacturing processes.

Clearly, Certainly, with the  as products are becoming more and more advancedperformant, the increased consumer expectations are increasing of consumers and new as well as the rise of new manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing (a solution that is perfectly suited for optimization, by the way!) are on the rise, numerical optimization is definitely an absolute essential tool to promote technological innovation and the development of new and improved products.

By: Jean-Nicolas Therien, P.Eng.