Magnetoelasticity: A 20-Year Journey from Cornell to Michigan Tech to ANSYS INC.

I was reminded of Professor Francis Moon, Joseph C. Ford Professor of Engineering Emeritus, when I visited Cornell University this summer for the 2014 Engineering Development Forum. You see, 20 years earlier I had just completed my PhD dissertation in the area of magnetoelastic buckling, a topic that was initiated by Professor Moon in 1968. His breakthrough research created immense interest around magnetoelasticity in the research community.

Due to the discrepancy between Moon’s theoretical value and experimental results in determining the equivalent mechanical forces produced by a magnetic field, researchers around the world were attracted into solving that puzzle. They subsequently coined the phrase: the Moon-Pao Paradox. The need for a clear understanding of macroscopic magnetic-mechanical interactions was crucial back then. Magnetic field was used for the containment of fusion reactions (Tokamak Fusion Reactor), magnetic sheet-metal forming and in designing the Magnetic Levitation (MAGLEV) transportation systems.

Here I am (circa 1993) setting up the experiment used to verify the theoretical model in a 100 Gauss Air Core Magnet Courtesy: Michigan Technological University

Here I am (circa 1993) setting up the experiment used to verify the theoretical model in a 100 Gauss Air Core Magnet Courtesy: Michigan Technological University

In my doctoral research, a new theoretical equation to predict the equivalent mechanical forces produced by a magnetic field, was derived based on a postulate that the fundamental magnetic element of homogeneous magnetized body is made up of a magnetic thread rather than a magnetic dipole. We solved the Moon-Pao Paradox — an experiment was successfully conducted to verify the equation.

Fast forward 20 years — late in 2013 we launched ANSYS 15.0 that redefined comprehensive simulation. As products become more complex; product engineering problems require simulation solutions that span a multitude of physical phenomena. At the same time, it’s not enough just to evaluate these physical phenomena in isolation, they must be considered as they act together with each other, in a complete multiphysics environment. A comprehensive simulation approach simulates the entire system and considers all factors that influence the system performance in its real world environment. The release brought together new capabilities and enhancements that offer a more comprehensive approach to guide and optimize complete product designs.

One new capability caught my attention. A new force-coupling between low-frequency electromagnetics (ANSYS Maxwell) and structural (ANSYS Mechanical) tools. I was utterly blown away when my colleague, Scott Stanton, gave me a demo preview of the new capabilities. What took me four years and standing on the shoulders of GIANTS (Professor Moon and my advisor Professor Milton Peach) can now be done in mere seconds!

Force-coupling between Mechanical tools.

Force-coupling between Mechanical tools.

With our latest release, engineers and designers can easily and effortlessly predict critical mechanical behavior caused by electromagnetic field. With this technology coupled with acoustics analysis, automotive or washing machine engineers alike can deliver the insight to minimize noise in motors. The next time when you walk by a hybrid electric vehicle or a running washing machine, please pay attention to the quietness of these modern marvels achieved on the back of simulation tools like ANSYS. The understanding of the coupling of different physical phenomena enabled them.

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About Sin Min Yap

Sin Min Yap is vice president, global corporate strategic initiatives at ANSYS, Inc. Prior to his work at ANSYS, Sin Min was the vice president of market strategy at PTC. Sin Min also held positions at McKinsey & Co. and at Ford Motor Co. At Ford, he led the launch of the 2004 Ford F-150 as chassis system integrator. His areas of expertise include product development, CAE, CAD and PLM. Sin Min once taught at Valparaiso University in the Mechanical Engineering Department. He holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering as well as master’s and bachelor’s degrees in operations management and engineering from Michigan Technological University. His passions are spending quality time with family, fine dining, and hitting balls in the squash court or on the golf course.

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