Remember Pac-Man? He was just a dot-gobbling head running in a linear maze, but back in 1980 that was entertainment’s state-of-the-art. A year later, along came Mario the Carpenter (later Mario the Plumber), who had arms and legs, could run and jump, and had a whole two-dimensional world to run around in. Mario became three-dimensional in the 90s, and today computer imagery has become virtually—no pun intended—indistinguishable from live action and is embedded in everything from movies and television to games and advertising. Part of what makes today’s simulations work is physics engines that mimic the forces acting upon objects to generate scenarios that look and feel real.
Just as simulation games let us face dragons and alien cyborgs without risking our lives or well-being, simulation lets us test complex electrical systems without having to actually build them. Of course we may still create prototypes, but in the meantime, a lot of blind alleys and educated guesses can be eliminated before we start cutting metal or winding wire. At Precision we use a whole toolbox of simulation packages to speed up our development process, and like every good carpenter we choose different tools for different jobs.
“We select simulation software to suit the job,” says Welly Chou, Design Engineering Manager. “Solidworks for fit, FEA for mechanical properties, Maxwell 3D for electrical and magnetic performance, and our own CBX, Coil Build Extreme, for fast calculations based on years of experience building magnetics. On the other hand, there are times when, rather than input data wait for a program like Maxwell to run a simulation, I’ll just go to the lab and wind up a sample in 15 minutes to see how it performs. Other jobs will need one or more simulations to tell us what we need to know. The alternative would be to create custom tooling, which can take weeks and cost thousands of dollars, build a prototype, and either find out that we got it right or have to do it all over again. That’s where Maxwell 3D and our own CBX software are the right tools for the job.”
But simulation tools alone don’t guarantee results any more than hammers and saws can build without an experienced carpenter. These are complex instruments, and results can vary with the sophistication of the user. As a set of resources, simulation tools in experienced hands help ensure that every product delivers maximum performance both quickly and at a competitive price.