Testing Reality in an Increasingly Complex Design Space

  • Magazine Feature Article
  • 15AERP02_02
Published February 01, 2015 by SAE International in United States
  • English

Digital simulation tools have transformed the designing and testing of new aircraft, as well as the way they are manufactured and sustained.

The universal adoption of digital 3-D design tools has truly changed forever the way that advanced products are created, from original concept studies, development, testing, and manufacturing, right through the lifecycle to maintainability, future enhancement, and long-term support. The ability to share detailed specifications and test data between all partners worldwide, but with controlled access as required throughout the supply chain, enables large and small suppliers to work to common standards and requirements, maintaining the same data accuracy across the network. This has not only saved valuable time, helping to reduce costs, but has brought about higher standards of product quality and, importantly, more traceability, providing a clear picture for project managers who have access in real time to progress at all levels.

Such has been the rapid rate of progress in all aspects of 3-D simulation technology it is hard to believe that its widespread adoption only dates back to the 1980s. The most commercially successful pioneer of digital design tools, originally known as computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), arrived in the form of the CATIA product line, from Dassault Systèmes. This was a significant breakthrough technology and enabled the aerospace, defense, and automotive sectors in particular to use digital tools to transform the way new products were designed and made.