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Time to turn to numerical simulation

Material forming industrial processes are always challenging to tune. Indeed, the old-fashioned method becomes now tedious, time consuming and expensive, especially in a current economic context where resources price becomes higher. In 2022, numerical simulation appears as a very efficient and adapted solution to bypass such heavy methods, especially now that physical models and numerical methods become more and more robust and accurate.

The classic trial and error method

The trial & error method consists in a first stage of analysis for the product conception and process fine tuning. But as it is entitled, the trial & error method has the drawbacks to be based on a real production of the product to check its characteristics. And unfortunately, positive or negative, the result of this first conception is very often, the destruction of the product. Indeed, as positive results, the product is used and sampled for material characterization (physical or optical measurements like stress, elongation, hardness … tests or spectrometry and any other measurements we can imagine), and thus, not really used. In case of negative results, the product is destroyed and/or recycled (for a second loop of trial/error).

Anyway, this method is indeed destructive (however sometimes necessary). Moreover, using real process and materials for checking their processability is expensive. Involving time, materials and energy, this method must be questioned in 2022.

Raw material and energy price increase

In 2021, the increase of the raw materials (petrol-based compounds, wood…) and also energies (gas, petrol, electricity…) prices had a really heavy impact on the production, and thus also on the trial & error method. As equipment are really run during this phase of test and development, they consume energies (Kwh pice is increasing too), materials and time. Moreover, the time used for experiments cannot be spent for real production (which means a loss of gain too for industrials).

As an example, the cost of electricity consumption for alloys manufacturer is expressed in millions of euros per year. Just imagine the impact of cutting down the trials per twice!

Modeling of a gaz furnace with the qobeo software

On the opposite, the modeling of a furnace illustrates the different velocity fields of gas, injected by different burners. As we know about the gas price increase, it is still more interesting to prepare the process using numerical simulation rather than check it on a real furnace.

 

In front of this time-consuming, expensive and non-eco-friendly method of development, tools and alternative methodology can be envisaged. Among them, the numerical simulation for industrial processes does propose a 100% virtual and cost-effective approach.

Modeling the processes

The modeling has the first advantage to be a 100% virtual approach of “heavy” and complex industrial processes. By using mathematical model integrated into software environment, simulation only requires some computation power. Compared to real experiments, the cost and the environmental impact are highly reduced. Built as a numerical twin of the real equipment (furnace, mixer, twin screw, quench tanks…), the numerical simulation allows to integrate all the complexity of the industrial process (equipment geometry, materials and operating conditions). As a result, any geometries can be high resolution reproduced and tested with many materials and operating conditions.

Fast overview of process reliability

With numerical simulation, in a few minutes, user can get the optimal functioning point of a process before starting the first run on a real industrial equipment.

Where real trial & error method require days for preparing the equipment, realizing the experiments, and performing the final tests (with lots of additional equipment), simulations are quickly performed for getting a first overview of the process run and thus check the product feasibility. On the other hand, with lots of additional tools, numerical simulation is the perfect way to screen a complete functioning domain to define and optimize an industrial process. Therefore, the different simulations highlight the main thermo-mechanical impact of the process on the material in order to set the optimum functioning point of the process (according to the equipment/material/user characteristics and or target).

 

Virtual Design of Experiments representation (with the Ludovic software)

On the opposite : the virtual Design of Experiments (DoE) performed with the Ludovic software, automatically crosses all possible combinations between 2 or 3 parameters, to check their impact on the process performance. In a few minutes, we can easily explore hundred of potential configurations for fine-tuning a process.

 

Getting deeper in the physics analysis

For catching the thinnest phenomena impacting the material and process, numerical simulation is always increasing its capabilities. Indeed, physical models are always improved for getting closer to the reality.

As an example, 2022 will be the year for qobeo to integrate complex modeling of the radiation phenomenon (called S2S – for Surface To Surface). The radiation is indeed a key in many heating/cooling process, where the way of furnace/quenching tank loading may have a strong impact on the workpiece quality.

 

Modeling of the temperature fied of two workpieces with qobeo

This simulation from qobeo does illustrate the effect of the radiation phenomenon, for a cooling quenching process. Indeed, the small cylindiric workpiece (on the right) has an impact on the cooling of the main workpiece. We can see that the temperature is a little bit higher (clear-blue temperature instead of dark-blue) on the right part of the main workpiece. The simple presence of the small cylinder protect the larger piece from the cooling effect.

 

According to the arrangement of the workpieces, the heating (or cooling) speed may be different between the pieces and also in one piece itself. As we know that this speed is fundamental for the product final characteristics, it’s worth for simulation to consider radiation. On the other hand, for extrusion process, complex phenomena such as the reactive extrusion or degassing are sensitive. They indeed figure out the final product characteristics. As an example, considering the degassing in twin screw is overriding for foam-based product. Indeed, the possibility to take into account the volume of degassed air/water steam/foaming agents… is a key option for determining the product final structure and properties.

The reactive extrusion is even more complex as it integrates a chemical reaction of the material all along the process, meaning a physical evolution of the product.

 

Evolution of EVA reaction and temperature, simulated with Ludovic

On the opposite, the distribution of two thermo-mechanical results are displayed along the screw profile. In orange is the melted material temperature evolution, and in blue the evolution of the chemical reaction rate of the EVA (in %)

 

In 2022, the Ludovic software (dedicated to corotating twin screw extruder) proposes new features for handling degassing a complex reactive extrusion modeling, making it an even more accurate and reliable tool for figuring out the process trends in extrusion. So definitely physics is at the heart of the numerical simulation. Numerical developments are also concerned by all those improvements: scalability, meshing accuracy and preparation time speed up, moving meshes are tackled topics to spread the numerical simulation assets everywhere and at every stage of the process conception/optimization.

SCC Time line

As an industrial solution, the numerical simulation is fully integrated in the production chain. The different approaches and solutions are available at different timeframes. Indeed, the flexibility of the different tools allows to address the complexity of the industry, of the process and also of the physics for providing the necessary level of answer.

As a short-term answer is available as consulting actions. The SCC consultants hold the internal capability for using its own software and thus, according to specifications described by the industrials, and bringing results for optimizing process/products. This scheme is quite standard and offers a very short-term delay for tackling urgent production or R&D issues.

As mid-term answer, industrials can also internalize the SCC solutions, by using by their own the software. Provided with initial training and technical support, the SCC software proposes a truly short learning curves to maximize the ROI. This internalization can be done in a classic way, by using on-premises licenses. However, in 2022, the cloud-based licenses use appears as a new opportunity for people to easily integrate numerical simulation solutions (reducing the initial cost, pay-per-use consumption, no hardware investment…).

Finally, sometimes the industrial issues are complex and require the coordinated actions of industrials, R&D centers and numerical simulation. One of the strengths of the SCC solutions is to open doors and discussion for involving the right partners for a given and targeted answer. This way, project are drawn for giving the right level of answer to industrials, while keeping in mind the industrial objectives, the given time frame and the complexity of each process and materials. That’s the way we deal for being able to leverage leading edge technologies process.


SCC product and answer timeline

 

2022 : the big jump

Numerical developments, physics modeling and handy features of simulation make it a must-have tool for 2022. In the mood of green product conception, with a positive eco-friendly impact and many practical advantages, numerical simulation software are spread on the cloud for making its use even faster and adapted to all the possible usages. Accessible from everywhere (no need to be in front of your machine), cloud computation is designed for being used on demand, with tailor made subscriptions. Now, numerical simulation becomes a pay-per-use tool, easy to budget and access.

In 2022, it's time to trust numerical simulation

Visit our websites for more details about it at

https://www.scconsultants.com