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Innovative Modelling Technique Leaves Expensive Prototyping a Thing of the Past

A recent study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A journal indicates that prototype modeling may soon be a thing of the past.

Researchers from the University of Bristol are currently working on a new modeling technique that has the potential to completely reshape the way we build engines and other complicated parts. The old way requires months of laborious design, testing and building of prototypes, which may then work, or may require the entire process to begin again.

This team is working on a modeling technology that will enable engineers to test designs for aircraft engines and other large parts without the need for using a prototype. In airplane engineering, there are so many parts such as the actual jet engine, landing gear and other components, that are subjected to harsh conditions in the real world. Emulating these conditions with a prototype has been incredibly difficult and the results are not always sound.

Dr Róbert Szalai, a Lecturer in the Department of Engineering Mathematics, stated: “One of the greatest concerns of engineers is modelling friction and impact. Building prototypes to test engineering structures can be extremely expensive and this new modelling technique could mean a prototype does not need to be built.”

Alan Champneys, a Professor of Applied Non-linear Mathematics in the Department of Engineering Mathematics, added: “Strongly nonlinear behaviour, such as stick-slip motion and impact, are a huge cause of uncertainty in engineering systems. The findings from this paper provide a key breakthrough in research that is being pursued by a consortium of major universities and industrialists to address these problems as part of an EPSRC programme grant.”

With this new modeling technology, much of the guesswork that goes into building these complicated parts will be eliminated. This means greater levels of safety for air travel and reduces the potential for terrible accidents. While engineers work hard with prototypes, it is certainly not an exact science and there is unfortunately, always room for error. It is hoped that these new techniques will address these issues.

This is great news for engineering students just entering into the field as well as CAD designers and engineers. Not only will these advances make workflows easier, it will also allow for quicker production times and open up the doors for increased innovation.

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