Fasttrack your Design with Virtual Prototyping
At Bayly we offer a full range of product design and development services which help you, our clients, develop the best product possible for your budget. Virtual prototyping is one of those services and can improve the design of a product and explore alternatives quickly, with little investment.
What is virtual prototyping?
Virtual prototyping is a product design process that uses software to simulate a design. It allows designers to digitally evaluate a new design or multiple concepts, iterate quickly and validate cost-effectively before a physical model is even required.
Why not rapid prototype?
Many people have heard of rapid prototyping and 3D printing has really taken off in the last 5 years. Rapid prototypes are great for testing form, fit and function of parts and assemblies but they are rarely appropriate for evaluating strength and performance, especially for products requiring stress and fatigue performance. This is where virtual prototyping comes in.
Historically the product design and development process relied on the engineer's experience and manual calculation to produce the initial concept. A prototype was then constructed in order to test and evaluate its performance. The initial prototype was unlikely to meet expectations as there was no previous way to evaluate the product and a series of iterations and physical prototypes were needed to reveal weaknesses and improve the design.
Finite Element Analysis
FEA (finite element analysis) is the most common type of virtual prototype that we create at Bayly. FEA has allowed us to improve the design of products for companies like OneSteel on their wire fence designs, OMX Solutions on a titanium implant for mandible reconstruction and Tully Welding Works on their industrial lifting machinery.
Do I need a virtual prototype?
There are many reasons why a company may require a virtual prototype. Product design projects which have tight timeline or want to speed up their time to market often use virtual prototypes to flush out potential problems and iterate quickly without needing to wait for physical prototypes to be produced and tested. Virtual prototypes can also significantly reduce the cost of developing as thousands of design alternatives can be explored before investing time and money into physical prototypes or when a product has not yet been identified as viable it can be quickly validated early in the product design process using a virtual prototype.
What type of companies use virtual prototypes?
Ryan from the Bayly team attended a workshop recently on automotive body engineering. One of the stories told on the day was about how Holden uses virtual prototypes. Holden conduct a lot of prototyping of both the simulated and physical variety. For the VF model Commodore's three year development program, 28,000 virtual FEA/simulations testing partial or whole vehicles were conducted before 69 physicial full vehicle crash tests were done.
Whether your project is big or small, technical or more straightforward, and with a large or bootstrapped budget, virtual prototyping allows all products to develop and improve quickly reducing time to market and investment in physical prototypes.