Adoption of High Performance Computational (HPC) Modeling Software for Widespread Use in the Manufacture of Welded Structures
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AbstractThe use of virtual design in the fabrication of large structures has enjoyed significant success in the heavy materials industry for almost two decades. Industries that have used virtual design and analysis tools have reduced material parts size, developed environmentally-friendly fabrication processes, improved product quality and performance, and reduced manufacturing costs. The proposed project involves leveraging an existing, state-of-the-art software code VFT used currently to design and model large welded structures prior to fabrication - to a broader range of applications and products for widespread use by small and medium-sized companies. The VFT code helps control distortion, minimize residual stresses, and pre-determine welding parameters such as weld-sequencing, pre-bending, and thermal-tensioning, using material properties, consumable properties, etc. as inputs. By doing this, manufacturing companies avoid costly design changes after fabrication. Emc2 staff developed this software code over a number of years in close cooperation with Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) of Peoria, IL, who currently uses this code exclusively for all fabrication and product design and development activities worldwide. Emc2 has licensed VFT for a number of other applications including the nuclear industry (USNRC), national laboratories (KAPL), shipbuilding (USNAVY), etc. The current limitation of VFT is that it requires the use of a commercially available finite-element software package as its core solver. This makes it prohibitively expensive for use by small and medium-size companies, since there is a significant licensing cost for the solver, over and above the minimal fees for VFT. The proposed project involves adapting VFT so that small and medium-size firms have access to this sophisticated technology and proven methodology that provides a quick, accurate and cost effective tool and is available on-demand to address weld-simulation and fabrication problems prior to manufacture. With the above background the scope of this effort will involve the following tasks:1) Employ an open-source solver (no fee) to replace the commercial code (solver). 2) Improve the graphical user interface (GUI) to a road map style to eliminate the need to be a computational expert to use VFT effectively. 3) Implement adaptive mesh refinement into VFT to enhance computational solution times without compromising accuracy. This will require the use of some codes and algorithms previously developed at several DOE laboratories (and other sources), and 4) Improve hardware architecture so that procurement of HPC assets or small scale clusters is justified and affordable for the small and mid-size firms of interest here. Accomplishing the above objectives in this SBIR project will provide small and mid-size companies access to this high-performance computational (HPC) technology via cloud- computing, either at Emc2 or at a national supercomputing site such as The Ohio Supercomputing Center at the OSU, on a pay-per-use basis.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.