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Key players collaborate on virtual prototyping solution

Key players collaborate on virtual prototyping solution
National Instruments and SolidWorks are working together to develop integrated tools that make mechatronics-oriented design and seamless deployment to hardware easy

National Instruments and Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp have announced their collaboration on a pioneer mechatronics tool that helps mechanical and control engineers work together to lower the cost and risk of motion system design. 

Seamlessly connecting NI LabVIEW graphical system design software and SolidWorks 3D CAD software, the new virtual prototyping solution helps engineers and scientists design, optimise, validate and visualise the real-world performance of machines and motion systems before incurring the costs of physical prototypes. Because 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. 

"The increasing complexity of machine designs demands better collaboration between different engineering disciplines including mechanical, electrical and control," says Jeff Ray, CEO of DS SolidWorks. "SolidWorks and National Instruments have developed a prototyping solution that dramatically shortens the gap between idea and reality." 

Mechatronics-oriented design tools improve machine development by simulating the interaction between mechanical and electrical subsystems throughout the design process. "We live in a multi-domain world, so designers should have access to best-of-class tools in each domain," says Dr. James Truchard, President, CEO and Co-founder of National Instruments. "By combining two of the most powerful design tools, LabVIEW and SolidWorks, we are giving engineers and scientists a new way to collaborate more effectively and innovate more quickly." 

The seamless integration of the LabVIEW 2009 NI SoftMotion Module and SolidWorks software delivers a design environment that is ideal for virtual prototyping. Existing SolidWorks CAD models can be easily connected to LabVIEW, which automatically links the motor actuators and position sensors defined in the model. Using the high-level functions provided by the NI SoftMotion for SolidWorks, engineers and scientists can develop sophisticated 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. 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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