The impact of VR on thermal simulation software
Electronics are getting smaller, and that’s posing quite the challenge to engineers. Consumer demand for lightweight and portable products is driving design considerations, with smartphones, tablets and laptops all becoming significantly slimmer over the last few years.
But engineers are having to balance these design demands against the increasing appetite for these devices to possess increased processing power, AMOLED displays and connectivity to a new wave of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and edge computing.
As electronics become slimmer engineers are having to house powerful hardware in smaller spaces, packing components closer together. With thermal complications being one of the biggest factors in products being held back, engineers are turning to new technologies to help them manage temperature and heat flows within their designs.
Thermal simulation software and VR
One of the best ways for engineers to get detailed insight into the thermal properties of their designs is through simulation software
Thermal simulation software allows engineers to test and refine the internal layout of a device prior to the production of a physical prototype. Manufacturers can then test their product, adjust the position of components for improved heat flow and ensure that it meets all necessary standard requirements.
This is becoming increasing important when it comes to designing compact devices that feature high-powered components. New simulation suites, such as those that include virtual reality (VR), have the potential to provide engineers with a fresh perspective on their designs.
Traditionally, thermal simulation results have been viewed using a desktop or laptop computer and have been presented in the form of 2D results planes or 3D streamlines. However, now we are starting to see VR being used to visualise the flow of air and heat within such designs.
By rendering their devices in 3D, engineers can identify components that may be at risk from overheating and spot minor fluctuations that may otherwise have been missed. This makes it much easier for engineers to understand the subtle alterations they might need to make to their models.
Additionally, being able to rectify issues from the earliest possible stage removes the significant downtime of building a non-functioning product and then having to restart the process from scratch.
6SigmaET is one such company already trialling this technology to help engineers immerse themselves within their designs and identify thermal complications early. Future iterations of the technology are expected to allow users to make changes to their designs while immersed within VR.
Benefits of VR technology
As VR technology advances, and high-intensity processing hardware becomes more compact and portable, using VR to interact with complex electronics simulations is rapidly becoming a reality for engineers.
The technology’s biggest benefit is that it offers engineers a completely new perspective, encouraging them to think differently, ask different questions, and ultimately generate different solutions It also offers a new way to engage with non-technical stakeholders who may previously have struggled to understand thermal results on a screen.
While there is still some way to go before these technologies are adopted into the mainstream, such trials are an important stage in considering new and innovative solutions to electronics prototyping and design.
Tom Gregory is a manager at 6SigmaET