Ansys Discovery Live


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Ansys Discovery LiveDesign Exploration for Every Engineer
Ansys Discovery Live delivers instantaneous 3D design simulation with direct geometry modeling, for interactive design exploration and rapid product innovation. You can easily manipulate geometry, material types or physics inputs to see real-time changes in performance.
Use Discovery Live to test more design iterations in a shorter amount of time, perform feasibility studies on new concepts and bring products to market faster.
ANSYS Discovery Live Makes Simulation Fast -- and Fun
We get our hands on ANSYS' real-time solver out for a drive to see what it can do, and what it can't...
Well, here it is. ANSYS Discovery Live is finally … live. And that’s great, because it means we can actually try the software and tell you if it lives up to expectations. After considerable fanfare -- some of it our own -- we can now put the software to the test. For those of you who missed the build-up, here’s a recap.
ANSYS Discovery Live is a GPU-based real-time simulation package that combines CAD modeling simulation environments into one super-responsive arena, where users can view how changes to their designs will affect simulations—in real time. No more meshing. And gone are the days of post-processing. Post-processing is now just … processing! Note, that as Ansys Discovery Live is GPU-based, you will require a GPU to run it. Ansys recommends a dedicated NVIDIA GPU card based on the Kepler, Maxwell or Pascal architecture (or newer) with at least 4GB of video RAM (8GB preferred). We tested it on a NVIDIA GTX 980, and had no noticeable issues.
For this first look, we downloaded the free 15-day trial of ANSYS Discovery Live from the ANSYS website. The trial comes with Discovery AIM and Discovery SpaceClaim, too, in case you want to set up a more in-depth simulation or perform some 3D modeling.
Let's just fire up the software and see how far we get without having to resort to reading the instruction manual. This is a good way to test how usable a new piece of software is. If it’s intuitive, then we don’t need to read the manual, right? Figure 1. ANSYS Discovery Live welcome screen.
Starting up the demo of Discovery Live presents the user with the welcome screen shown in Figure 1, giving a choice of four different demos, or the option of creating a new design/simulation of their own. The demos look interesting enough, and to see what the software can do, you click the dump truck wind tunnel demos. Because wind tunnels are cool. Figure 2. ANSYS Discovery Live Wind tunnel simulation.
As you can see from the screen shown in Figure 2, the wind tunnel is set up in a confined area with the flow direction being indicated by the green arrow on the left side. The colors on this plot correspond to flow speed, although you can change the plot type by clicking the small menu at the bottom of the screen. The small panel on the left side of the screen shows the data relevant to the simulation, such as gravity, flow speed temperature and any calculations we may have set up.
For example, if you want to measure the pressure drag on the front of the cab, you can select the faces of the cabin that you want to take measurements from, and you can switch between these using the menu on the left. Switching from each calculation will display a 2D plot of that information in a small graph on the right side of the screen. In the image shown in Figure 2, you can see three plots, each measuring the pressure on the total wetted area, the windshield, and the wing mirrors, respectively. You can place probes to measure data at any point, too, if you wish.
All in all, the plot interface is super easy to use right off the bat, and the same is true for all plot types, be they fluid or solid mechanics based. But that’s not why we are here….
The Design tab is found in the top menu (see Figure 3), and it is here where you can alter the geometry of the model and see how the simulation responds in real time.

Figure 3. ANSYS Discovery Live Design tab.
For someone coming from a SOLIDWORKS background, their first reaction may be shock as they wonder where all the options have gone. This can be answered by looking at the “Pull” icon. This may not come as a surprise to SpaceClaim users, but all the extruding, cutting and revolving tools to help you convert your sketches from 2D to 3D are accessed via the pull button. Other icons serve dual purposes too, and these can be accessed by clicking the icon while holding CTRL or ALT or some other combination of keys. So that’s where the other functions have gone. They’re still there; the menu is just a lot less cluttered. It’s deceptively simple at first glance, but after playing with it for a few hours, we learned how deep the functions go. One would definitely have to read the manual (or learn how to use SpaceClaim properly) to become a power user and make the most of this.
Next, we switched the plot over to a vortex plot (Lambda2 method) because it looks more psychedelic and fun. You can see that there are a lot of vortices inside the open container at the back (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. ANSYS Discovery Live Vortex plot.
Vortices are probably a bad thing, so we designed a lid for the container and the vortex plot responds accordingly. The design tree is located in the right-hand panel of the screen, so we can activate/deactivate our model components from there.

Figure 5. Putting a lid on it, and seeing how the flow reacts in real time.
Now the vortices in the container have gone, there is a lot of turbulence at the back of the vehicle (see Figure 5). Let’s add an unrealistically large fin to the back of the vehicle. We can do this by clicking on a face and sketching on it (see Figure 6).

Figure 6. Adding new sketch geometry on the fly.
We added a couple of huge winglet-type things too, because everything is better with winglets (see Figure 7).

Figure 7. Winglets on a garbage truck. Design fail, but that’s fine. ANSYS Discovery Live lets you
experiment early on in the design process to see what works best.
As we can see, the huge winglets have done very little aside from creating even more vortices. Switching to the pressure plot, we can see that there is additional pressure building around the winglets we added. OK, maybe winglets don’t work on everything.
But that’s the entire point of ANSYS Discovery Live. ANSYS wants simulation to become a part of early-phase conceptual design. Sure, you wouldn’t use Discovery Live for a critical bridge design, where the physics need to be verified, but you can get a good idea of how an unusual design (such as winglets on a garbage truck) may affect the efficiency of the product. It gives you the freedom to explore out-there ideas in the early stages, without the need for meshing or post-processing. That’s a good thing.
Conclusion
Does ANSYS Discovery Live live up to the hype?
Kinda. In terms of usability and function, it succeeds at the task of making simulation accessible to designers (and not just engineers). It does seem a little limited in terms of the type of calculations available, but if you really want to run more in-depth physics studies, you can always send the file directly to ANSYS Discovery AIM (which is included in both the trial and full versions). This is a useful design tool, but it is not a design validation tool.
More importantly, it’s actually kind of fun to use. It’s almost like a video game, where the player has to reach some particular value by changing model geometry.
The gamification of design engineering. That’s a pre
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