Across the automotive, aerospace, and heavy machinery industries, complex products often need to be lightweight while also meeting stringent lifecycle durability requirements. But it can be a challenge to determine whether products meet such requirements during the design phase. Conducting fatigue analysis using nCode DesignLife can help organizations virtually predict how long products will last before committing to a physical prototype.

Fatigue Analysis: A Critical Part in Product Development

In recent years, products have become increasingly complex. But that growing complexity does not release manufacturers from complying with fundamental constraints regarding weight and durability. Finite element analysis (FEA)-based structural simulation, a crucial step in product development, can help engineering teams design components and predict performance under static loading. In real operating conditions, however, many products will fail at stresses far below their critical static value. The reason? Fatigue. Let’s look at an example.

Think of an automotive suspension system that helps to stabilize a vehicle’s movements as it turns, stops, or encounters varied road surfaces. Its performance depends on the repeatability and randomness of the different forces acting upon it. Those forces vary with the terrain, vehicle speed, and other key factors. Over time, critical components in the suspension system may fail due to fatigue and the vehicle may become unusable. 

Many companies need to ensure longer product life to help manage high warranty costs and to improve product reliability, reputation, and the overall brand. Incorporating fatigue analysis into the product development process can assist with this. And nCode DesignLife is a software solution that can help. 

This post introduces the capabilities of nCode DesignLife, discusses its advantages, and identifies those who will benefit from it. 

What is nCode DesignLife?

Fatigue analysis can play a valuable role in the product development process, but companies need the right software solutions to support these essential analyses. nCode DesignLife from Prenscia Software can help design engineers better balance complexity with weight and durability requirements. This fatigue analysis and fracture mechanics solution takes the results from all leading FEA-based structural analysis programs to make its calculations. It can handle both high- and low-cycle fatigue as well as vibration fatigue as the result of random loading. Its solvers can also predict crack initiation and propagation to better calculate fatigue life under dynamic loading. And it’s worth noting that the solution also facilitates high-performance computing (HPC) by allowing your team to solve simulations across multiple computers.

Fatigue analysis can offer multiple benefits to aid your design team. For example, welds are a common source of failure during real-world operations. nCode DesignLife can perform fatigue analysis of spot, seam, and thick welds. It can also identify failures due to either mechanical or thermal loads with its high-temperature fatigue and creep solvers. Furthermore, nCode DesignLife can also handle fatigue analysis of composites, materials that are widely used in industries mandated to create light weight products.

nCode DesignLife’s material library feature deserves a specific mention because fatigue simulation requires certain specialized material properties. The vast library in this solution makes the properties for commonly used materials available for simulation. If your material is not available in the library, Prenscia also offers extensive material testing services to get the material properties needed to perform fatigue analysis.  

Benefits of using nCode DesignLife

Many engineering teams already use FEA-based structural simulation in the design process. Because nCode DesignLife assimilates results from most FEA solutions into its own simulations, those teams can now get insights into their product’s reliability and operating life early in the design stage.

Engineering teams can also easily use real-world operating conditions and data acquired from various physical tests as inputs to their fatigue analysis. This improves the accuracy  of the results obtained from fatigue analysis. 

It is also important to note that the insights provided by the fatigue simulation can help engineers identify new opportunities to  improve designs significantly. Those results can help them come up with new ideas to increase the life of a product without compromising on key properties like weight. In the end, organizations are in a better position to reduce warranty and replacement costs.

Who should use nCode DesignLife?

Now that we’ve discussed nCode DesignLife and its many benefits, you may be asking yourself who will actually benefit from its use. Companies that develop and manufacture products that work under repeated or random loading conditions are one example. 

Manufacturing organizations that develop products with high replacement and warranty costs can also benefit from the nCode DesignLife’s fatigue analyses. In this case, longer product lives can lead to a significant reduction in such costs. 

And, organizations that lease their products to customers using the product-as-a-service (PaaS) model can also see gains from the use of fatigue analyses. In this arrangement, the company that owns the asset is responsible for any maintenance costs. Given that the downtime due to maintenance or failure is quite expensive, organizations that use fatigue analysis to design products with longer operating lives will see a direct impact on their bottom line.

Automotive, aerospace, and defense industries recognized the benefits of fatigue analysis early on. But other industries, ranging from construction equipment to medical devices, can also benefit for the same reasons. 

Summary and Takeaways

Today’s manufacturing organizations must balance competing requirements: smarter, connected products that are both lightweight and durable. To better design products with longer lifespans, many companies are relying on fatigue analysis based on data from FEA-based structural simulations. Software solutions like nCode DesignLife can help them conduct such analyses, under real-world operating conditions, to identify potential issues long before a physical prototype is considered. Organizations that use this sort of software tool are in a better position not only to design stronger, more reliable products, but also to help improve their organization’s brand, reputation, and bottom line.