The increasing role of 3D in the simulation environment


Defining Simulation modeling

By definition, Simulation modeling is the process of creating and analysing a digital prototype of a physical model to predict its performance in the real world. A model is a representation of the construction and working of some system of interest.

The topic of discussion will be focussing on the increasing role of 3D simulation. The main focus will be Discrete Event Simulation. This is based on the assumption that the system changes instantaneously in response to certain discrete events. Simulation modeling has opened up a whole new world of mathematical analysis on the impact of uncertain inputs and decisions we make on the outcomes we care about. We find ourselves in an era where technology advancements change the way we do things.

2D vs 3D simulation

More and more we are beginning to see 3D simulation playing a big role in simulation modeling. The traditional 2D modeling has been replaced with impressive 3D data providing visuals that are not only appealing to the audience, but also represent what is physically on the factory floor. 3D simulation provides enhanced visuals and accuracy that otherwise could not have been achieved in 2D modeling (as seen in Figure 1 – 3D Factory Model in Tecnomatix Plant Simulation). We are now able to pull in an object’s CAD data, point cloud of the facility etc. to develop a digital prototype.

Figure 1 – 3D Factory Model in Tecnomatix Plant Simulation [1]
Figure 2 – Point cloud image [2]

Instead of pulling in a 2D drawing of your facility, we see point cloud images (Figure 2 – Point cloud image) are being used in 3D simulation models. A point cloud is a set of data points in a three-dimensional coordinate system. This is quite pricey but comes with its own benefits. The level of accuracy of these point cloud images enables us to check for possible collisions with equipment. This would not have been possible in 2D models. The special relation between objects is very important, which is why point clouds are gaining popularity among modelers. The information gained from pint cloud images allows for smooth execution of facility renovations and retrofit projects.

3D Simulation models provide an opportunity for non-simulation personnel to get a better understanding of the model. When presented with visuals of their facility, machines etc., the team is able to offer more input and actually engage in the simulation process more effectively. Therefore making the whole exercise meaningful and produces even more accurate results.

Previously, presenting simulation models to management was a tedious and daunting task because most people found it difficult to relate to a 2D modeling environment with objects flying around as seen in Figure 3 – 2D Model of Production Facility [3]. As soon as you present familiar visuals in 3D, people are able to relate and make better decisions based on the visuals they see in front of them.

Some might argue that it takes a lot of effort and time into building a model in 3D which essentially does not add any statistical significance. My argument is that the response and support you will receive from key stakeholders will determine how far your project will go. If you can get your audience to understand what you are building and aim to achieve, your results will be better.

3D in Education

3D modeling together with Virtual Reality (VR) has redefined the way learning is taking place (Figure 4- University of Pretoria VR Centre [4]). The University of Pretoria has a state of the art Kumba Virtual Reality Centre for Mine Design. The VR center presents an environment for ‘immersive’ experiences destined to change the face of education, research and design in mining and beyond.

Figure 4– University of Pretoria VR Centre

The center is set to enhance learning, training, and research in operational risks across industries through an innovative approach to information optimization and visualization. Essentially, such facilities are not limited to just the mining industry and can be used in other fields of study. Imagine medical students performing open heart surgery simulations!

Such technological advances and developments have revolutionized the way simulation modeling has traditionally been done. We can now create solutions to otherwise complex challenges that we are faced with in industry today.

Workers are now able to identify and get a better understanding of what is going on in the simulation model presented to them. They are able to physically/visually see the effects of certain decisions they make while working. This makes the whole process interactive and a better learning experience.

Benefits in a nutshell

  1. Speed
  2. Precision and Control
  3. Scenario Visualization
  4. Interactive Analysis
  5. Improved Communication
  6. Appealing Visuals


[1] 3D Factory51 Model in Tecnomatix Plant Simulation taken from Tecnomatix Plant Simulation V14 example models.

[2] Trimble. Automation in Point Cloud Processing. GeoDataPointBlog: (2017,December 19) Retrieved From:

[3] 2D Model of Production Facility created in Tecnomatix Plant Simulation V13.1.

[4] Kumba Virtual Reality (VR) Centre (2017, December 19) Retrieved from:

Press release: Basler PowerPack for Microscopy Enhanced for Fluorescence Imaging


The Basler PowerPack for Microscopy now pays tribute to challenging fluorescence applications. New monochrome Basler Microscopy ace cameras offer best imaging performance due to Sony´s latest CMOS technology. The Basler Microscopy Software 2.0 comes along with dark skin mode and fluorescence color preset.

Ahrensburg, October 25, 2017 – Camera manufacturer Basler enhances its PowerPack for Microscopy to address the challenging requirements of fluorescence imaging. The choice of cameras has been rounded off by powerful monochrome Microscopy ace cameras with Sony´s latest CMOS technology. The Basler Microscopy Software increases user convenience with dark skin mode and fluorescence color preset, as well as additional feature upgrades.

Basler offers two cameras which are particularly suitable for fluorescence imaging: the Microscopy ace 2.3 MP Mono offers a resolution of 2.3 MP combined with high sensitivity thanks to its large pixel size. The Microscopy ace 5.1 MP Mono scores with an ideal balance between high resolution (5.1 MP), large pixel size and low noise level. An important factor in fluorescence applications is the use of low light emissions, to reduce the risk of photobleaching the sample. The cameras provide high quantum efficiency and sensitivity, to take images even in low light. Besides suitable frame rates, both cameras deliver a high dynamic range for recording the differentiation between subject and background.

The Basler Microscopy Software included in the Basler PowerPack has released its 2.0 version:  the graphical user interface can be switched to dark skin mode to reduce the light emissions from the display towards the sample. This feature also reduces the user eye fatigue and stress when working in a dark environment.

To make fluorescence imaging more convenient and to save the user´s time, the software has also been enhanced with color presets for the most common fluorescence markers. For quick access, these presets can be activated with a single click and configured to individual needs. Images still remain as a greyscale image for further processing in other applications or can be saved as a color version.

The new 2.0 version of the Basler Microscopy Software also offers exposure compensation and a new zoom feature for stereo microscopes.

The Basler Microscopy Software is compatible with Basler’s microscopy cameras and can be downloaded from the Basler website:

Press release: New Basler Video Recording Software Available for the Basler PowerPack for Microscopy


The new Basler Video Recording Software captures single images, high-speed videos for slow-motion analysis and image sequences for time-lapse microscopy. It comes with the Basler PowerPack for Microscopy and also works with all Basler USB 3.0 cameras.

 Ahrensburg, 11 October 2017 – Camera manufacturer Basler is now offering a software solution to enhance the possibilities of microscopic imaging. Taking single images, recording videos, as well as image or video sequences, becomes very simple and intuitive. The recording software even offers camera control features to improve image quality, to set up different options for recording and to use hardware trigger signals.

The Basler Video Recording Software enables the capture of slow-motion videos. Such recordings are useful for motion analysis where fast-moving objects need to be investigated. This is particularly crucial in applications like material analysis, sperm analysis or for monitoring cell transportation processes.

In addition, the software offers two options for time-lapse microscopy. Take uncompressed image sequences for further analysis and processing, or capture time-lapse videos for monitoring processes and changes in samples as well as for publications. The time interval for both images and video can be set to your needs, as well as automated start and stop the recording.

When using a Basler Microscopy ace camera, the software even takes images or videos automatically when using hardware trigger signals. This comes in handy for many use cases and can, for example, support hands-free documentation during material inspection when using a foot-operated switch connected to the camera.

Comprehensive software features at a glance:

  • Live view and camera control
  • Image adjustments and automated settings
  • Videos in modern MPEG-4 format
  • High-speed recordings for slow-motion analysis
  • Image and video sequences for time-lapse microscopy
  • Image capturing with hardware trigger signal
  • Easy installation and intuitive user interface
  • Supported operating systems: Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 – 32 bit and 64 bit
  • User-friendly software design for ease of use

The Basler Video Recording Software comes with each Basler PowerPack for Microscopy and all Basler USB 3.0 cameras can be connected. The software can be downloaded from the Basler website:

FEA Practical Assignment


FEA Assignment

For this assignment, you need to complete the form (link on image) below which requires you to do the following:

  1. Interpret the test setup and volunteer measurements and report the values you assumed to be correct.
  2. Interpret the test results and provide the requested values.
  3. Complete a hand calc using the measurements and assuming a clamped cantilevered beam with a point load near the tip and provide the required results.
  4. Represent the structure (as tested and calculated by hand) using FEA 1D beam elements and provide the required results.
  5. Repeat the above using FEA 2D shell elements.
  6. Repeat the above using FEA 3D Tetrahedral elements
  7. Repeat the above using FEA 3D hexahedral elements.

Click the image below to access the assignment form where you need to submit all the required results:

FEA image


The links below show the steps needed in the various software packages to build the FEA models required to complete the assignment.

Pick the software below that you will be using:

CivilFEM icon