Virtual Prototyping (VP), otherwise also known as simulation-based-design, refers to the iterative design refinement of a designed product using a computer-based functional physical simulation(s). VP is rapidly gaining importance as the engineering practice of choice to aid rapid product development and shorten the design cycle. The enabling trends for the adoption and rapid proliferation of the VP methodology include: (i) ubiquitous availability of low-cost PC-based parametric simulation/analysis tools and (ii) integration of multi-physics simulations into a unified environment.

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Today, computer simulation may now be used to compute/calculate the geometric, kinematic and dynamic responses of a system (within the computer), and the results visualized in a 3D interactive graphical virtual environment. 

This has set the stage for this new phase in engineering enabling the designer to quantitatively evaluate the performance of a proposed design completely in software minimizing the expense of multiple intermediary physical prototypes. 

Further, VP can now permit a wide variety of test suites to be run on computer models without running the risks of over-testing (and possibly wearing out components) thus aiding in the process of redesign to achieve the desired performance. Virtual prototypes can additionally facilitate the involvement of management, sales personnel and consumers early in the design. Thus, VP has gained acceptance as the method of choice for design of mechanical system products in several leading manufacturing industry sectors (automotive, aerospace, rail, medical device design and general machinery).

While there is a significant demand from industry for students trained in this methodology (and undoubtedly tremendous benefit to be derived in terms of enhanced productivity), there are also numerous issues. Currently, there may not be significant room in engineering curriculum to permit widespread adoption in the lecture-based classroom. Other debilitating factors could include: (i) the significant learning curves (due to complexity of these tools); coupled with (ii) the lack of an audience-specific structured learning frameworks (for inexperienced users).

To address this need, a series of Web-based self-paced Tutorials/Case-Studies have been created to  permit you to interactively explore: 

(i) the process of generating engineering analysis models (including geometric, kinematic and dynamic characteristics) exploiting the integrated virtual prototyping environment provided by several commercial tools; 

(ii) develop skills for interactive simulation-based-refinement of models; and 

(iii) perhaps most importantly, develop your engineering judgment by interactive exploration of a spectrum of examples. 

The unified virtual prototyping environment can be created by integrating state of the art CAD packages (such as Solid Works, Solid Edge, Pro/Engineer etc.) with mechanical system simulation plug-ins (such as Dynamic Designer, Pro/Motion etc.). These tutorials have been designed with the aim of helping you, the user, to gain proficiency with contemporary Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) tools for Mechanical Systems Simulation and their effective use for simulation-based  design and refinement in a series of virtual prototyping exercises. The emphasis is on providing a structured framework to facilitate this learning process while enabling you  to examine and practice at your  leisure.


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