Safety Simulations benefit from Manufacturing Simulations
It has long been known that simulating the results of a crash before said crash has a chance to occur, saves lives and improves the design of vehicles and buildings. This kind of virtual prototyping has been happening behind the scenes for many decades - almost since the start of VR as a field.
However, even the most vigorous, modern crash test simulation, with all known variables accounted for, can be wrong. Sometimes these differences are unavoidable with the computational power limitations of the simulation computers, sometimes its another, unforeseen cause.
In the case of cars, one such unforeseen cause turned out to be a difference in the simulated materials a critical car support was made out of, and the materials the actual finished part was made out of. Well, not quite a difference - the materials were the same, but the manufacturing process was different, leading to unforeseen stress points in the material structure.
German researchers have been on the case however, seeing it as a golden opportunity to improve both the reach of industrial simulations, and their interoperability. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials have been looking into creating a dualism of simulation. That does not mean running every simulation twice, but instead, running a simulation of the manufacturing process behind each component of a car, so that it is clear which process is being assumed.
Those components can then be assembled together for a virtual crash test as usual. However, if the manufacturing process changes, they can simply swap out the old part, for the new manufacturing simulation part. It looks exactly the same, but will behave exactly as the machined part will. In this way, simulations can easily be rerun with different manufacturing processes, and even using materials that have not yet been made - their manufacture simulated before any real trials begin, saving time and money and making them the right way first.