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August 10, 2009

National Instruments and SolidWorks collaborate on virtual prototyping software

To help engineers optimise the performance of motion systems before incurring the costs of physical prototypes

By CBR Staff Writer

National Instruments, a provider of control design and embedded systems, and Dassault Systemes SolidWorks, a provider of mechanical design software, have collaborated on a new virtual prototyping software that will help mechanical and control engineers work together to lower the cost and risk of motion system design.

Connecting NI LabVIEW graphical system design software and SolidWorks 3D CAD software, the new virtual prototyping software reportedly helps engineers and scientists design, optimise, validate and visualise the performance of machines and motion systems before incurring the costs of physical prototypes.

As LabVIEW is used for controlling the virtual prototype, engineers and scientists can deploy their graphical software to physical NI hardware with little to no change to the code, said National Instruments.

According to the companies, the new virtual prototyping software also makes it easy to deploy motion applications, validated using the SolidWorks 3D CAD environment, to NI embedded control platforms such as the NI CompactRIO programmable automation controller (PAC). Additionally, engineers and scientists can use the new NI 951x C Series drive interfaces to achieve direct connectivity to stepper, servo drives and motors from NI and third-party vendors.

The integration of the LabVIEW 2009 NI SoftMotion Module and SolidWorks software is expected to deliver a design environment that is suitable for virtual prototyping. Existing SolidWorks CAD models can be connected to LabVIEW, which links the motor actuators and position sensors defined in the model.

Using the functions provided by the NI SoftMotion for SolidWorks, engineers and scientists can develop motion control applications that include logic based on sensor feedback. Design teams, customers and sales engineers then can use the virtual prototype to visualise realistic machine operations and analyse cycle time performance.

According to the companies, by using LabVIEW and SolidWorks, the mechanical dynamics of a machine, including mass and friction effects, as well as motor and mechanical actuator torque requirements, can be simulated before parts are specified.

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