Predictive simulation of manufacturing processes is an area of fast growing interest for industry. Indeed it can be argued that in a number of cases the advantages of simulation, over traditional design approaches are significantly greater in this field, than in areas where FE and numerical simulation are already well-established. Process simulation includes, material forming, such as casting, forging, stamping, injection molding, plastic sheet forming and the like, but also welding and heat treatment simulation, such as surface treatments, quenching, and thermo-mechanical treatments in general. Methods and software products are particularly complex, as problems are highly non-linear, transient, requiring integration of a variety of physical phenomena and process parameters, and often related to variables of different physical fields.
Process optimisation, being a business driver from the perspectives of, productivity, cost and time to market however plays a key role. It is typically multi-objective: with a variety of inherently different technical issues, furthermore operational efficiency and cost targets have to be taken into account at the same time. Evolutionary and hybrid approaches are required, as well as MCDM methods to find out the best compromise among the nondominated optimal solutions.
All this is at the forefront of numerical simulation. Hence a network of competencies (and related education) is crucial to support industrial applications.