By: Carl D. Kolts, VP of VEXTEC Corporation
The recent WSJ article “What’s Hot in Manufacturing Technology” provided a brief overview of computational tools that are accelerating technology advancements in product design and manufacturing. Some of these technologies are finding their way into the manufacturing mainstream today, such as 3-D printing, while others are several years if not decades away.
Modeling and simulating materials is an area that promises tremendous advantages in designing better products and getting them to market faster. But practical application of material models built at the atomic or molecular level is still many years away. VEXETC’s VLM (Virtual Life Management®) achieves many of the same benefits today by modeling microstructural behavior at the grain level. This is one step above the molecular level, but below the level typically used today by manufacturers, where a material is assumed to be homogeneous.
VLM is being used by manufactures today for new material development and the evaluation of new applications of existing materials. VLM is used to reduce expensive, time consuming, make-it-and-break-it physical testing, while increasing insight into the behavior of the material in use, and confidence in the final design. As a computational tool, VLM also address the increasing need to control the variation in material design and processing.
To apply VLM a model or Virtual Twin® of a part is created. The Virtual Twin is simulated by the VLM platform. This Virtual Twin captures the geometric design tolerances, the material variation, and the stresses the part will experience when in service. In this manner, VLM integrates the traditional material and structural design domains to provide a comprehensive understanding of component life under varying in-service conditions.
VLM provides insight into why damage occurs – how cracks and corrosion begin and grow over time. Sensitivity studies identify what can be done to prevent damage initiation and growth through modifications to material design, component design, processing, or in-service stresses. These sensitivity studies can show the effects of varying attributes like heat treatments, surface conditions, alloys, geometry, residual stress, or in-service loads and stresses. Think about how this can impact new product development and commercialization, as well as in service programs and warranties.
Consider the Cold Spray technology referenced in the WSJ article – VLM has been used to predict cold spray durability as an additive manufacturing technology to repair corrosion sensitive parts in multiple applications. Virtual Twins were configured and simulated to learn how damage would occur, and to predict the life of repaired parts based on the in-service usage conditions and material microstructure variations. Using VLM, the optimal cold spray repair configurations were determined without the need for expensive testing, before making the first prototype part.
VLM is a unique, patented technology that is used to accelerate product development and new product commercialization, as well as to understand and resolve complex in-service failure issues. It is being used across many industries, including aerospace and commercial aviation, medical devices, oil & gas, and automotive and industrial equipment applications. Manufacturing companies engage VEXTEC to apply VLM to minimize the uncertainty associated with manufacturing and in-service usage conditions and better manage risk.
Imagine being able to know when, where, and how damage and ultimately failure will occur in your product before ever making the first one. How can VLM impact your product development cycle, cost structure, and ability to manage risk and warranty reserve requirements?