MCAD Tech News (#323)

8 Mar, 2012 By: Cadalyst Staff

Viewpoint: Could Crash Modeling Have Saved the Concordia?

Event simulation helps automobile manufacturers design safer vehicles — and it can do the same for shipbuilders.

By Robert Yancey

The Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster has generated many questions, but one in particular haunts survivors and onlookers alike: Could this disaster have been prevented? It is clear that the captain made some unwise choices, which put the ship and its passengers in danger. Could something have been altered in the ship's design to limit the impact of that poor decision-making on the crew and passengers?

Disaster simulations could help ship designers prepare for uncommon scenarios, such as having a ship run aground and roll onto its side. Image courtesy of Roberto Vongher, via Wikimedia Commons.
Disaster simulations could help ship designers prepare for uncommon scenarios, such as having a ship run aground and roll onto its side. Image courtesy of Roberto Vongher, via Wikimedia Commons.

Most automobile accidents are also caused by bad decisions. Some are caused by conditions beyond the control of the driver, but the vast majority are a result of drivers speeding, disobeying traffic regulations, attending to distractions, falling asleep at the wheel, etc. Automotive manufacturers have done a great deal to improve car safety, introducing features that minimize harm even when drivers perform poorly. Crumple zones, airbags, and energy-absorbing materials all reduce passenger injuries and fatalities in crashes. Automobile safety ratings for the past decade show a clear improvement — much of which is due to extensive simulation modeling of crash events.

In simulation modeling, engineers use a digital design of a vehicle to generate a simulation model that represents all of the key elements of the design, including material properties, mass properties, occupant models, and the impact event (e.g., side impact, frontal offset, etc.). Engineers have been working for years to correlate these simulation models with real-world test results. The result is that modern simulation models correlate very well with physical test data in regard to the deformation of the vehicle, the energy absorption of the vehicle, and — most importantly — the effects on the passengers.

The accuracy of these models is now so high that most automotive companies do extensive virtual testing of their vehicle designs before ever building prototypes, and the physical testing is really just a final verification of the crashworthiness of the design. In most cases, there are no surprises during the physical test. Read more »

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Robert Yancey is senior director, Global Aerospace and Marine, Altair.


HP Refreshes Z Workstation Line with Three Upgraded Models

The HP Z420, Z620, and Z820 make their debut, offering new multicore options and increased expandability.

By Cadalyst Staff

Today, Hewlett-Packard introduced three new models in its HP Z workstation line: the Z420, Z620, and Z820. The new workstations feature Intel Xeon E5-1600 and E5-2600 processors, offer up to 512 GB of DDR3 memory, and support multithreaded workstation applications. They also feature third-generation PCI Express technology. During an HP media preview event, Jeff Wood, the company's vice-president of worldwide marketing, Commercial Solutions, described the release as "a compelling refresh to our product offering."

A Growing Family

HP launched the Z family in 2009 with its Z400, Z600, and Z800 workstations, adding the smaller Z200 and Z210 models in subsequent years, and the all-in-one Z1 last month. As the line has evolved, HP has kept its focus on professional users in CAD and other compute-intensive markets. "A workstation customer is doing mission-critical work ... they're designing planes, trains, and automobiles," said Jim Zafarana, vice-president and general manager, Commercial Solutions.

HP Z420. Designed to meet mainstream computing and visualization needs for users working in CAD, architecture, video editing, and photography, this upgraded version of the Z400 includes up to eight processing cores using processors from the Intel Xeon E5-1600 and E5-2600 families, up to 64 GB of ECC (error-correcting code) memory, up to 11 TB of high-speed storage, and up to NVIDIA Quadro 5000 or dual NVIDIA Quadro 2000 graphics cards. Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events


Eliminate the Madness in Your Product Development
March 20–28, 2012
Various cities
These complimentary, four-hour events from Graphics Systems feature the opportunity to see how experts solve common issues in their product development using the latest technology. Events will be held in multiple Wisconsin and Illinois locations. Read more »

What's New in Aras EPLM for SolidWorks Enterprise PDM?
March 22, 2012
11 a.m. ET
Attendees can learn about the newest features and functionality in Aras EPLM for Solidworks during this product demonstration webinar. Read more »

March 27–29, 2012
Los Angeles, California
WESTEC 2012, organized by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, will feature nearly 400 manufacturing software providers showcasing the latest in machine tools, technologies, and manufacturing advancements. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at


CADspeed Blog Post:
Optimize ArchiCAD 3D BIM Models to View on Mobile Devices

This blog post discusses optimizing textures and model size to get the most of out ArchiCAD models. Read more »

First Look Review: 3DBOXX 3970 XTREME
Uniquely designed workstation offers extreme speed that justifies its price tag. Read more »

Trimble's Ruggedized Juno Takes GIS on a Field Trip
The third-generation handheld device combines positioning, imaging, and communications tools in one pocket-sized package for asset management and data collection. Read more »

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Improve Autodesk Inventor Template Files
These simple changes can save you time when you start new part, assembly, and presentation files. Read more »

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