|Tree Fan, Senior Engineer at Product R&D Division of CoreTech System (Moldex3D)|
CAE molding analysis software has brought great benefits to the development and manufacturing of plastic products. Compared with the development process relying on engineer experience and mold trials, the introduction of CAE molding analysis can help predict possible defects of the products at the design stage and make modifications as soon as possible, reducing the required time and money. However, the operation of CAE software and the interpretation of simulation results require technical skills and effort. When technical specialists limited, it is particularly important to reduce the time costs by the automation application of CAE software. For example, automate the repetitive software interface operations, or directly integrate the process of CAE molding analysis into the company’s usual work platform.
What is API?
Before implementing automation, we must first understand the tool for achieving application automation, the Application Programming Interface (API).
The concept of API can be simply illustrated through the workflow of ordering meals in a restaurant. When guests walk into the restaurant, they will order from the menu; the waiter will pass their requests to the kitchen, and finally deliver the meals from the kitchen to the guests. API plays a role similar to a waiter in an application—a transmitter of requests and responses, and bridges between applications (guests) and applications (kitchens).
Fig. 1 API is like a waiter in an application—a transmitter of requests and responses, and bridges between applications (guests) and applications (kitchens).
Using another case to explain, if we want to compare the fares of different airlines with the same route, we just need to visit the travel agent’s website, enter the date and destination, and then we can find a list of eligible flights from different airlines. How does the agent website attain cross-airline price data? This can be an example of an API application. First, it provides an option list on its own website, then acquires the flight information of each airline through the API provided by different airlines, and then integrates it into its own website to present the search results. The websites do not need to record the flight information of every airline, nor do they need to have staff searching for the data. Similar to the integration of API, they can provide passengers with air ticket price comparison services.
Automation Application of CAE Software
After understanding the concept of API operation, we can think about how to reduce the time cost by automation application of CAE software. For design comparison and molding simulations, we need to create many simulations analysis groups. After the simulation is completed, post-processing of the simulation results is also required, and there will be many repetitive operations, such as analysis group establishment, molding parameters adjustment, and acquisition of analysis results. If the CAE software supports API, CAE engineers do not need to perform repetitive interface operations and time-consuming manual data collection and comparison. Instead, they can create automated execution programs through the functions corresponding to the API to speed up the work items. Now, Moldex3D Studio provides relevant APIs for the establishment of simulation groups and the interpretation of analysis results.
In addition, through the integration of API, the CAE molding analysis process can be integrated into the self-developed platform, which simplifies the interface operations that need to be performed originally in the CAE software, so that team members can perform CAE simulation analysis and result interpretation through the simplified interface. This approach can not only help reduce the time cost of team members to adapt to different software, but also can define their own simulation workflows that meet the company’s product requirements. Thus, they can apply the simulation results of CAE molding analysis in the standardized process to achieve product quality improvement.
Fig. 2 API applications
For individual CAE software users, the API can substitute repetitive operations with programs that can automatically perform these operations. Even if the application requirements are not always the same, the program can always be adjusted through parameterization. Therefore, although it can take time to develop automated programs, it will bring considerable benefits.
In the organizations or enterprises that require CAE molding analysis technology, not every team member is required to familiarize with CAE software. Nevertheless, through the integration of API, they can create a standardized interface that is suitable for their own workflow, bringing in different software and their advantages, and making Moldex3D’s simulation technology available to every member.