Optimization Technology Goes Beyond Engineering Tools

This post was taken from Altair Enlighten.

During a recent meeting with Chris Wilkinson, Engineering Director at Spirit AeroSystems, he kindly agreed to sit down for a short discussion (video below) regarding the use of simulation technology in the aerospace industry. Chris is a fascinating person to speak to about the future of design and is a firm believer that additive manufacturing and 3D printing is the inevitable future of manufacturing.

Additive manufacturing offers great potential for engineers as it can allow for the manufacturer of complex structural configurations. It provides the engineer with the freedom to determine the optimum structural configuration, removing often oppressive conventional manufacturing constraints. Traditional manufacturing sees a part machined out of a larger block with the majority of material being discarded (as much as 80 percent in some cases). As additive manufacturing builds components up in layers, waste material is avoided.

During our discussion, Chris revealed some of his experiences of simulation and optimization technologies being implemented in his industry. What struck me is that, even with the industry push for lighter, more fuel efficient aircraft, optimization technologies are often seen as specialist and functional tools used by a small collection of experts to fire fight problematic components. There is still a poor connection between design optimization and the resulting business impact.

As the drive for ever more fuel efficient aircraft continues to gain momentum and the popularity of additive manufacturing increases, we may see a stronger alignment which will allow design optimization to really make its mark at a business and not just an engineering level. Altair’s ‘Optimization Centers’ are undoubtedly helping by focusing greater attention on strategies to minimise material use and their rapid expansion across OEMs in multiple industries is very encouraging.

The future of optimization and its contribution to the wider design process looks bright, but it will take visionaries like Chris to champion the ‘design for manufacture’ future where optimization is used as an enabler for business success rather than simply an engineering tool before its full potential is realized.

Royston Jones

Royston Jones

Executive VP of European Operations & Global CTO at Altair Product Design
My name is Royston Jones and I have been at Altair sixteen years. I was born in the green valleys of North Wales and eventually left my village for the bright lights of South Wales; Swansea University. It was there I was eventually persuaded to help the English with their engineering and left the principality. It’s been a great thrill seeing my passion, engineering simulation, gradually increase its impact on the design process. However, a bigger thrill has been seeing Manchester United dominate English football for two decades. I enjoy seeing my boys grow up and I am excited about how engineering simulation has become a key technology in creating highly engineered; Green products.
Royston Jones
Royston Jones

About Royston Jones

My name is Royston Jones and I have been at Altair sixteen years. I was born in the green valleys of North Wales and eventually left my village for the bright lights of South Wales; Swansea University. It was there I was eventually persuaded to help the English with their engineering and left the principality. It’s been a great thrill seeing my passion, engineering simulation, gradually increase its impact on the design process. However, a bigger thrill has been seeing Manchester United dominate English football for two decades. I enjoy seeing my boys grow up and I am excited about how engineering simulation has become a key technology in creating highly engineered; Green products.