Using its Siemens TeamCenter PLM system, Rolls-Royce Deutschland has created huge CAD models each with several gigabytes. With the typical aero engine having 20.000 (approx.) components, even down to individual screws, visualising them immersively, with a fluent frame rate, is no easy task.
Prof. Dr Marius Swoboda, Head of Physical, Computational and Design Sciences at Rolls-Royce explained: “With such complicated and detailed models, we need to not just visualise in 3D, but also enable intuitive interaction (such as dynamic sections). To achieve this, we installed a bespoke, 8.5-metre wide Virtalis ActiveCube display system, comprising three walls, not like a traditional CAVE, but splayed at 130o and a floor. This more open configuration was designed to give better communication between all VR-session attendees. We also purchased some development licences of Virtalis’ Visionary Render software. Ultimately, we expect to playback HPC-based simulation, such as CFD or FEM, in real-time in VR.”
Virtalis designed the ActiveCube to make the best use of the space available in Rolls-Royce Deutschland’s infrastructure located in Blankenfelde, just outside Berlin. Since the facility was commissioned, it has attracted not only internal employees, but also external visitors, such as politicians, suppliers, customers and joint project stakeholders.
Stephan Rogge, Rolls-Royce Deutschland’s VR Operator/Development Engineer, commented: “We are primarily using Visionary Render and our ActiveCube to test new approaches to design and manufacture. Owing to the open architecture of our VR-System, we can visualise our digital product definition, provide interdisciplinary review sessions and check everything fits together as it should. We are also collaborating with academic partners, like BTU Cottbus, to develop new ideas to take this technology forward.”
After a review of the VR visualisation software marketplace, Rolls-Royce Deutschland, like their colleagues in the UK, chose Virtalis’ Visionary Render because it is capable of loading an entire engine model data set, it can handle complex geometry, including cut planes, and is a flexible development platform. “I like the way we can enrich our engine models with interactivity via the addition of LUA script”, said Rogge. “Our system in conjunction with Visionary Render is so intuitive to use, people can be up and running in just under five minutes from stand-by to a fully loaded engine. BTU Cottbus is also presenting us with even more opportunities, so that we expect to be able to merge the simulation results with our CAD geometry in real-time.”
Since the Rolls-Royce Team believes in the potential of VR and sees the variety of different use cases, on the horizon, it has also taken delivery of two Virtalis ActiveDesk HMD-based systems, used in addition to the ActiveCube. “I see VR as a multi-disciplinary incubator of ideas”, stated Swoboda. “Our engineers come up with more ideas than they would in 2D because they clearly see the obstacles they face and what needs to be done to overcome them. They don’t need to have IT expertise because they just intuitively interact with the visualisation, such as physically walking round the model or pointing and dragging to make changes. As a result, we are integrating Visionary Render into our business processes, including product familiarisation, factory planning and the creation of assembly sequence instructions for fitters.”
In a recent, very important, research project, the team identified clashes between the component and the tool in VR, before either part had been manufactured. As changes were made virtually to rectify the problem, both time and money were saved.
Prof. Dr. Christian Hentschel – Chair of Media Technology at the Brandenburg University of Technology at BTU Cottbus said: “We are helping Rolls-Royce Deutschland to improve the interface between humans and machines by using gestures, position and speech, giving Intuitive Virtual Interaction. We are currently engaged in several exciting collaborative research projects with Rolls-Royce to develop new methods for the visualisation of simulation and geometric data – all of which use Virtalis VR technology.”