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Simulation—6 of the Most Embarrassing Mistakes You Can Make

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simulation Mistakes

Modern simulation software does a lot with a little. You give it some simplified geometry and a few boundary conditions, and you get back brilliant results.

But before you run into your boss's office saying, “It works” or “It broke,” take a moment to check your results. They may be dead wrong. And you could be quite embarrassed.

The stresses or fluid flows that unfurl on your screen seconds after you hit “solve” sure may look right. You trust the program. Computer-aided engineering (CAE) programs can be counted on to work without oversight. Your simulation program has dutifully taken your geometry and run with it. A lot of work occurs that is unseen—meshing, converting inputs into a boatload of partial differential equations, assembling an immense matrix, solving it—with 100 percent accuracy. Your program has trusted in you and assumed that you knew what you are doing, that you have used sound engineering judgment—and have not made a single typo.

It is a trust that is often misplaced. Something as minor as tapping the zero key six times when you should have done so seven times, recording 1 million instead of 10 million—to something as major as using the wrong failure theory—are all user mistakes commonly made.

Like a dog happily and repeatedly fetching a stick, your simulation program will be eager to please and do what you request of it, no questions asked. It will be up to you, its master, to put this trust to good use.

Here, we will list several mistakes that are frighteningly easy to make—and describe how you can try to avoid them.

  • Mass Is Critical
  • Count Your Zeroes
  • Units: Nothing If Not Consistent
  • Incorrect Material Properties
  • The Wrong Stress
  • Use Checks