Force-directed graphics are a type of graphical visualization and simulation that differs from animations in many ways. Animation engineering is often used in gaming technology, television advertising, and website development as a graphics design tool. Within the animation process, computer-generated graphics are put into motion with a variety of movements that are unlimited according to the animator’s imagination. Animation often combines technical illustration, surface rendering, audio applications, along with the computer algorithms which create 2D movement on a screen.
Within animations, the resulting movements generally do not hold true to what is physically possible. A simulation, on the other hand, is a mathematical model of the forces that underlie the graphical representation. Engineers use simulation technology to demonstrate heat transfer within buildings, various natural and bulb lighting scenarios, mechanical interactions between moving parts, and much more.
Force-directed graphics combine the best of both worlds and is an excellent solution for making forces visible. The direction and the ratio of one force in relation to other forces can be visualized by using width or length, while positive or negative forces can be visualized perfectly by the use of colour. This type of modeling and simulation is already being used in research lab simulations and in the design of automobiles, airplanes, and many more mechanical machines that are perfected by close examination of the physical forces at work.
What Type of Forces Can Be Simulated?
When you work with a technical specialist that can combine the graphical computing power of CADD (or computer-aided design and drafting) with force-directed vectors you can expect good quality results to simulate the forces between objects or machine parts. The availability of intuitive software that can mimic the behavior of forces – such as the potential energy of a compressed spring upon release, has taken simulation techniques mainstream.
Other force simulation options are available that do not require specialized simulation software. Forces can also be simulated in a graphical manner using vectors and colors to visualize and depict motion. This is a common method used when the idea of motion and interaction need to be expressed – instead of the exact mathematical relationship. Force vector simulation is more simplified, but it does effectively show the interaction between vector forces, such as:
Understanding the Analysis of Motion
Vector analysis deals with the above listed physical principles in four-dimensions – the three spatial dimensions and time. While vector analysis can be quite complex and involved mathematically, when these same forces are demonstrated graphically, it makes the understanding of motion and forces much more simple. Vector analysis for graphical purposes deals with those forces that have a direction and a mass volume or kinetic component – that is motion.
While weight has no motion or vector direction, it does have volume – and acceleration has a magnitude of force in a certain direction, qualifying it as a vector force. These physical qualities when acted upon will result in a vector displacement – or movement. The field of aerodynamics uses vector analysis extensively to design better airplane frames. Graphical images of invisible forces acting upon aircraft can accurately demonstrate propulsion, drag, velocity, and many other variables.
Here are just five examples of using graphics techniques to simulate motion:
- Legal Scientific Evidence – a computer simulation can be used as scientific evidence when realistic re-creations of events are portrayed from different angles.
- Finite Element Analysis (FEA) – simulation of the reactions and trajectories of single elements or components to predict motion
- Multi-Body Dynamics – to visualize how applied forces effect entire assemblies with particular emphasis on the behavior of the connections or joints
- Fluid Dynamics – to illustrate the flow of liquids, including thermal and viscosity properties
- Product Simulation – as an advertising or learning tool to visually describe the forces that need to be applied to consumer products or industrial machinery
Kinematic Motion Versus Dynamic Motion
Kinematics is a classical view of the study of mechanical motion. In kinematics study, the mass of the forces is not considered. Only the mathematical geometry or position variables are considered. This branch of mathematical science is often used to describe the motion of our solar system since we do not know the mass or weights of the planets. Robotics and biomechanical systems will also apply kinetics algorithms to design robotic arms or to model the human body in motion.
Dynamic motion principles will apply mathematics to the study of forces but also taking into account the physical properties of the forces to illustrate the rotational and linear trajectories that result. Some objects move in a linear manner such as force, acceleration, and velocity. Additional forces can be rotational, such as torque or angular velocity. Dynamic motion studies look at the initiating forces and also forces that are co-generated as a result of energy loss during motion.
Applications for Projectile Motion Visualization
If one example could be used to discuss the visualization of vector forces, then the projectile motion would be an excellent candidate. All motion can be classified as either event-based motion or time based motion. Event based motion looks at all the actions and results from forces that act upon rigid bodies. Time based motion analysis evaluates the end result of bodies in motion after a set amount of time. While one looks at motion at a certain time, the other looks at motion which occurs due to interacting forces.
Projectile analysis is unique in that they can be examined as to the end result of motion, or in regard to what happened during motion. For legal purposes, verifying the trajectory to confirm where a bullet struck an object could include factors such as wind velocity and gravity. This is a common use for the visualization of forces through simulation.
Projectile analysis by means of force vector analysis can be applied to many challenges:
- designing golf balls and footballs for improved aerodynamics
- improving the accuracy of firearms and faster reload mechanisms
- to test unmanned ballistic missiles and rockets design engineering
- to reconstruct major accidents involving trains (which is a projectile)
- to study the best water trajectory to distinguish fires with a hose
- as Olympic divers looking to improve their techniques
Force Simulation of Architectural Products
Every year, innovative construction materials are introduced at tradeshows and in sales team meetings. Getting architectural products approved for use and desired by architectural and construction teams is easier when the product’s superiority can be proven. Unbreakable materials, controlled-elastic items that have flexibility and strength, and stronger concrete are just a few examples.
Through the use of force simulation, robust architectural products can be designed to accurately show failure mode through force vector simulations. Not only is the development cycle reduced, but the product reliability is increased. When design analysis can specify the material strength for new products, showing that strength to new clients is best achieved with a graphical representation.
Complex fluid flow simulations through pipelines or plumbing systems can be simplified with vector force graphics. The force distribution and pressure within liquid cavities are important factors to efficient piping design layouts. In some cases increasing the clamping force or reducing the piping turn angles will alleviate built-up pressure. These forces can all be shown graphically with vectors to describe imposing forces and the resulting flow turbulence.