One platform that can provide broad access to simu lation tools to entrepreneurs at all levels, individuals and staff in large organizations, while at the same time allowing for all to use this new approach, is the Composites Manufacturing HUB. Accessible with a Web- based browser, the Composites Manufacturing HUB is a cloud-based cooperative platform that hosts composites manufacturing simulation tools. The National Science Foundation provided the funding to develop the original HUB concept, known as nanoHUB, which focuses on nanotechnology. To date, nanoHUB boasts 10,000 users worldwide with over 350,000 simulations and 210 engineering tools to simulate important nano phenomena in nanoelectronics, materials science, thermal science, physics and chemistry. Over 2,500 content items, such as tutorials seminars and full classes, drive the overall community to over 175,000 users annually. The user community connects students at all levels, research professionals, faculty and industrial users. Tools range from molecular modeling and simulation to photonics. Figure 2 shows the global user community of the nanoHUB and illustrates the power of this innovative platform.
The Composites Manufacturing HUB can put composites manufacturing simulations in the hands of those who need them to invent new and innovative ways to capture the extraordinary benefits of these high performance products at an acceptable manufactured cost. “Crowd-sourcing” is the new way to drive innovation where contributions from organizations, large and small, are joined in the development of new products. The HUB provides the user with simple browser access to powerful tools that simulate the actual steps and outcome conditions of a complex manufacturing process without the need to download and maintain software in the conventional manner. Learning to use uncertainty quantification (UQ) with manufacturing simulation tools will also be accomplished on the HUB in order to allow for continuous learning and growth of the human talent required in composites manufacturing.
The Composites Manufacturing Hub provides all the functionality of the nanoHub.org and more. The Hub user community promotes broad-based innovation across all sectors of composites manufacturing. An organization or person develops an idea for manufacturing a composite component then accesses the simulation tools and data to evaluate the concepts through a virtual design and manufacturing process. The economics of the manufactured products can be evaluated and numerous scenarios studied to achieve near-optimum conditions prior to developing the actual prototype system. This avoids the expensive trial-and-error approach now so prevalent in manufacturing, and allows a much larger design space to be explored by the user. The Hub can be a clearinghouse for simulation tools developed for composites design and manufacturing.