<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=445056146107513&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Autodesk Bolsters Simulation Portfolio with Acquisition of NEi Nastran®

Hagerman & Company

Simulation is a cornerstone of Autodesk’s Digital Prototyping philosophy, and for years Autodesk has provided high-quality Simulation products to solve a wide range of engineering problems. Between Inventor Professional’s limited but accurate FEA solution and Autodesk® Simulation Mechanical, most users had no trouble proving out their designs digitally before proceeding with costly physical tests. So why the need for NEi Nastran®?

An Evolving Philosophy

Until now, Autodesk’s Simulation strategy has been one of democratization: they want to put simulation within the reach of every CAD user. Not just from a price standpoint, but from a usability standpoint. The idea is not to make every CAD user an analyst, but instead provide tools that are easy to use and accurate enough for the kinds of problems most CAD users need to solve.

But what happens when the problems get more complex? Inventor’s built-in simulation is only valid for a specific set of problems - namely linear analyses with linear material definitions. Realizing that many engineers need to solve nonlinear problems, in 2009 Autodesk acquired Algor, which provided a fully functional nonlinear analysis tool.

Great, so now we can solve a whole range of problems, including those that involve heat transfer, advanced dynamics, even moving parts. There’s just one issue: for high-end problems, analysts want a name they can trust. If Autodesk was going to get serious with mechanical simulation, it had a long way to go to make a name for itself.

Enter NEi Software

NEi Software was one of a number of companies whose simulation solution was built on the NASTRAN solver. NASTRAN (short for NASA STRucture Analysis) has a long history and a well-deserved reputation for accuracy. That fact, coupled with NEi’s powerful Nastran in-CAD software, made it an ideal company for Autodesk to acquire to expand its Simulation offerings.

New and More Capable Products

As a result of the NEi Software acquisition, Autodesk now offers two wholly new products and one expanded product:

  • Autodesk® Simulation Mechanical 2015 R1
  • Autodesk Nastran® in-CAD
  • Autodesk Nastran®

All of these products include the Nastran solver from NEi, providing unprecedented power and accuracy for solving a wide range of engineering problems.
Autodesk® Simulation Mechanical 2015 R1

Autodesk provided a mid-year release to those of us on subscription for Simulation Mechanical or for those who take advantage of Simulation Flex. Sim Mechanical 2015 R1 includes all of the traditional capabilities of Sim Mechanical and incorporates two new key features: the Nastran solver and what is now called the Autodesk Nastran Editor. You can use all the tools you’re familiar with in Simulation Mechanical for pre- and post-processing of models, and choose to use either the old standby Sim Mechanical solver or the Nastran solver.


The Autodesk Nastran Editor is a tool unique in the industry that gives analysts greater control over their Nastran FEA models and results. The Editor can be used to both edit Nastran bulk data files prior to analysis and as a post-processor to review results.


Keep in mind that Simulation Mechanical 2015 R1 is also included in Autodesk’s Simulation Flex product line, which offers both local desktop solutions and the ability to solve in the cloud. This is a key benefit to existing NEi Software customers, as NEi couldn’t offer cloud-based solving to their customers prior to the Autodesk acquisition.

Autodesk Nastran

Autodesk Nastran is the equivalent of NEi Nastran, which is in effect just the Nastran solver and what is now the Autodesk Nastran Editor. If you purchase Autodesk Nastran you will still need a tool for pre- and post-processing of models. Existing NEi Software customers that used a 3rd party pre- and post-processor (like Femap) may want to continue purchasing Autodesk Nastran. For existing Autodesk customers that have other simulation software that can export to the Nastran format, Autodesk Nastran is a cost-effective solution to introduce the Nastran solver to their environment. Finally, for existing Simulation Mechanical subscribers you need only download the R1 update – it includes all of the functionality of Autodesk Nastran!

Autodesk Nastran in-CAD

Finally we come to what I think is the most exciting new product resulting from this partnership: Nastran in-CAD. Nastran in-CAD provides a fully functional non-linear simulation tool right inside Inventor! This includes a powerful pre-processor, results analysis tools, and of course access to the Nastran solver for solutions. You can now solve those complex non-linear and dynamics problems all without ever leaving Inventor.


Note that Nastran in-CAD is licensed separately from Inventor – this does not replace the traditional Inventor Stress Analysis environment. One of the nice aspects of Nastran in-CAD licensing is that is by default a network license. This means it can be easily shared amongst your entire design group. Not only that, but Nastran in-CAD works with both Autodesk Inventor and Solidworks. Nastran in-CAD is the ideal tool for those of you who work in mixed environments. And you do not need separate licenses for your Inventor and Solidworks seats. A given license of Nastran in-CAD will work with either of the two CAD packages.

A Bright Future for Autodesk Simulation and Digital Prototyping

I’ve been using Autodesk software for over 15 years in a professional capacity. I remember the first time I heard the term Digital Prototyping, and while I’ll admit I thought it was a marketing ploy at first, I’ve come to realize it’s anything but. It’s a straightforward, powerful methodology to deliver quality products while cutting costs and reducing time to market. When properly executed, you no longer have to choose between good, fast, and cheap.

For years, though, we just couldn’t quite realize the full benefits of that philosophy, with simulation being a huge missing piece of that puzzle. Autodesk’s latest offerings, between Simulation Mechanical, Simulation CFD, and Simulation Moldflow, make what was once a great yet largely unobtainable goal a reality.

Submitted by Forrest Judd, MCAD Solutions Engineer, Hagerman & Company, Inc.