ManufacturingAugust 28, 2018

Future Outlook: Electromagnetic Simulation on the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform

This article was originally published in the June 2018 issue of SIMULIA Community…
Avatar Martin Timm

This article was originally published in the June 2018 issue of SIMULIA Community News magazine.

Electromagnetics (EM) is the field of physics concerned with electric and magnetic fields. The foundations of this field, Maxwell’s equations, were laid over 150 years ago, but the solutions to these equations are still crucial to understanding the behavior of any product with EM components, from a telephone to a particle accelerator.

More broadly, there are numerous connections between EM and other fields of science. Motors and magnets produce forces and torques. Electric currents generate heat, which implies a link to thermodynamics. Electronics rely on the properties of semiconductors described by solid-state physics, while batteries produce a voltage due to chemical effects. EM is, therefore, a key part of the multiphysics simulation tool box.

CST helps engineers meet the challenge through our complete technology for 3DEM approach to simulation. We built a platform for the EM space with a large number of general purpose and specialized EM solvers, the ability to hybridize them, and to consider thermal effects and mechanical stress. This allows users to simulate complex systems with many components and consequently many physical effects in a straightforward workflow, without the costs and overhead time associated with switching between different software applications.

“Since joining the SIMULIA family, we’ve been able to take this further with CST POWER’BY 3DEXPERIENCE,” says Peter Thoma, Managing Director for Research & Development at CST. “Electromagnetism is just one field of physics, and as devices become smarter and more connected, their EM properties are increasingly entangled with other considerations such as mechanical performance, material properties, aerodynamics and product design. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides software solutions that allow collaboration for all these disciplines.”


The rise of autonomous vehicles and electric mobility demonstrates the importance of EM and multiphysics simulation. A typical autonomous electric vehicle has numerous components and subsystems interlinked in a complex network of interdependencies, and there are numerous trade-offs made in order to optimize vehicle performance. Minimizing the electromagnetic inference (EMI) emitted by the device while ensuring immunity to external EMI is one of the key considerations.

Let’s start with the battery. Its electrochemical properties need to be balanced against its thermal safety and its crashworthiness. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform enables access to the BIOVIA Materials Studio, to simulate the chemistry and thermal runaway of the battery, and other SIMULIA applications to calculate the structural integrity. Wireless battery charging will increase the usability and acceptance of electric vehicles (EV). Electromagnetic simulation helps to improve efficiency and operational safety of charging devices and procedures.

An autonomous car needs to be aware of its surroundings. There are navigation systems such as GPS, GLONASS and Galileo to determine the current position and plan the route to the destination. The immediate environment of the vehicle can be monitored by radar systems. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication systems gather information about potential threats and optimize traffic flow, enabled by the 5G communication standard that powers the Internet of Everything.

“All wireless communication requires antenna systems, and if we add devices supporting multimedia to the list above such as keyless entry, radio and personal communication, there are dozens of antennas on a single vehicle,” says Thoma.

Every antenna individually has to fulfill its specifications, but it is not sufficient to do so in isolation. It has to work inside the product it is designed for and be matched and optimized for the place it will be installed. There might be design constraints to follow, the shape of a car body or the space in a home multimedia device, and every design change may strongly influence the performance of the antennas. In addition, all of the antennas must operate together at the same time. The co-site interference depends on the car body and the installation place.

PICKING THE RIGHT ANTENNA Antenna design is a specialist job that requires a deep knowledge of electromagnetics. However, not every development has to start from scratch. For many products, particularly low cost devices, the need for an antenna specialist was avoided by either resorting to very simple designs or buying off-the-shelf antennas. In both cases, the solution is not ideal. The CST product Antenna Magus was developed to fill this niche in antenna design.

Antenna Magus includes a database of antenna designs and an accessible information browser. Given a set of specifications, Antenna Magus suggests suitable antenna types and produces a model tuned to the specified frequency bands. This means that designers can get antennas specially created for their application and integrate them into their devices without needing all the expertise of an antenna engineer.

ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING The limitations of conventional manufacturing and prototyping methods are shown clearly in the high-tech development cycle. The process of constructing a one-off prototype is expensive and time-consuming. Simulation combines with additive manufacturing to reduce these costs.

Additive manufacturing also allows the construction of devices that could not be machined or cast by conventional methods, with significant potential space and weight savings. Integrating EM simulation into the additive manufacturing workflow means that engineers can go directly from design to production. CST offers synthesis tools such as Antenna Magus and Filter Designer 3D to meet this need, as well as powerful built-in optimizers for tuning devices to meet tight specifications and optimize performance.

“Virtual prototyping with simulation can reduce the number of prototypes needed, while additive manufacturing techniques, such as 3D printing, make the production of physical prototypes easier,” adds Thoma. “Moreover, additive manufacturing opens up the possibilities of generative design that enable solutions that were previously impossible to create with traditional manufacturing methods.”

Electric field of an optical directional coupler.

FLEXIBLE ELECTRONICS Flexible electronics is another field where advances in manufacturing are overcoming production shortcomings, allowing devices to be more compact and more durable. The deformation of electronic structures due to bending, twisting and stretching affects their performance. The design and analysis of such structures represent a significant new market for EM simulation.

PHOTONICS As the electronics industry reaches the limits of what’s possible by miniaturizing existing technologies, the entirely new field of photonics is beginning to mature. Photonics uses photons of light, just as traditional electronics uses electrons, and requires far higher frequencies as well as specialized nonlinear optical materials.

“CST, in partnership with Luceda Photonics, has developed an integrated photonic design workflow for the layout and analysis of photonic circuits,” explains Thoma. “This allows engineers to synthesize and simulate photonic components and analyze their performance as entire systems.”

CONCLUSION Electromagnetics is a fairly specialized subject but is increasingly important for a wide range of applications—even those without any obvious electronic components, such as buildings that must withstand lightning strikes and packaging that contains RFID tags. “By integrating CST software into the 3DEXPERIENCE platform,” Thoma concludes, “we aim to make our applications available alongside all Dassault Systèmes software solutions, and make EM simulation an invaluable part of product design.”

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