Autodesk adds Nastran to its CAE offering

EarningsAutodesk confirmed yesterday that it has acquired certain assets of NEi Software, including its flagship Nastran solver. Autodesk isn’t ready to say anything about its plans for Nastran but we can speculate that it wants to add its powerful linear and nonlinear as well as dynamic response capabilities to the solvers  acquired over the years with Algor,  Moldflow and CFDesign.

Solvers are tricky beasts. They’re the workhorses of CAE, solving huge matrices with various approaches for memory management, matrix simplification and rearrangement, convergence tolerances and so on. Without solvers, simulation grinds to a halt.

Why does Autodesk need Nastran? Good question. Algor was always seen as a powerful but midrange product; rebranded as Autodesk Mechanical, it continues to have that image and a relatively small reseller network. NEi, on the other hand, has over the years evolved its version of Nastran to include their own nonlinear capability and aimed it more at the high-end nonlinear user community. NEi also created and marketed the NEi Nastran Editor, a tool that gives non-specialists greater control over their FEA model setup. It’s not immediately clear if Autodesk also acquired this or other NEi products.

Autodesk is going to share more information soon including what, exactly, it acquired, whether any NEi staff joined Autodesk and what it plans to do next in simulation. We can think apps, cloud, on-demand, new user interaction models … ooh.

I think it’s exciting and yet again validates how pervasive simulation will eventually be. Autodesk’s reach, channel and direct, its presence in markets that NEi didn’t address on its own … It’s going to be cool.

UPDATE, 15 May 2014: Several readers wrote in after this post went live to say that NEi Nastran isn’t actually Nastran, as in  based on the original NASA-sponsored code. It is, however a solver that is often benchmarked against those flavors of Nastran (and others, like ANSYS, Abacus, etc.) and adds similar capabilities to Autodesk’s offering. There’s a bit more in today’s post.

I wish I could tell NEi customers what to expect in the near term, but I can’t. Autodesk is releasing very little info right now. I suggest you contact your NEi rep and see what they say.

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