A man is enhancing the design lifecycle with SIMULIA CST.

How to Enhance Your Design Lifecycles for Consumer Electronics with SIMULIA CST

Table of Contents

From wearables to toasters, just about everything has some level of connectivity. Most small consumer electronic devices, such as cellphones, smartwatches, and smart home devices, have complex connectivity but little room to include antennas and advanced electronics.

Various antennas cover cellular, WiFi, GPS, and NFC. They are also battery-powered, meaning the performance of the electronics can impact the user experience. If elements are not tuned properly and run inefficiently, then the user will experience shortened battery life and potentially secondary issues like overheating.

Higher frequency transmission, as seen in 5G and various IoT, means higher accuracy is needed in the antenna design as well as considerations for heat dissipation and emissions.

This rapid growth in affordable, yet complex, devices create new challenges that simulation can help solve.

Rather than waste resources on iterative design with many prototypes and potential failures at the final stages, you can use SIMULIA CST to help optimize and verify the design before any parts are made. You can accomplish this by using a variety of solvers and tools built directly into SIMULIA CST.

SIMULIA CST Studio Suite can be a one-stop software for characterizing, analyzing, testing, and optimizing devices that use any type of electromagnetics.

Electromagnetic components and factors for simulation

 4 Categories of PCB Electromagnetic Elements That Require Simulation

Many, if not most, of the electromagnetic elements that require simulation now start on printed circuit boards (PCB). Phased array antennas, GPS, NFC, WiFi, and the like can all be designed on a board.

These designs are generally done in dedicated PCB design software like Altium or Cadence, which are powerful tools, but they do not have the ability to simulate full system complexities like SIMULIA CST.

SIMULIA CST has robust tools for importing, analyzing, simulating, and exporting complex PCB information. Using the electronic design automation (EDA) tools, you can bring in fully defined stack-ups into various solver environments.

Let’s break down the important emag considerations into four categories and how SIMULIA CST can make your life easier:

  1. PCB validation and optimization
  2. Antenna design and placement
  3. Thermal analysis
  4. Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), electromagnetic interference (EMI), and specific absorbed radiation (SAR) compliance


1. PCB Validation and Optimization

Using the PCB Studio in SIMULIA CST, you can review the stack-up, make modifications, perform analysis, and even simply export files into the 3D Microwave Studio (MSW).

EDA Import layer specifications in SIMULIA CST

Completed EDA Import looks like in SIMULIA CST

EDA import layers in 3D Microwave Studio in SIMULIA CST

Once the import is complete, you can do various simulations. With a few setup steps, you can also generate a variety of eye diagrams to look at the signal integrity of multiple signal paths.

This is an eye diagram in SIMULIA CST.

You can also look at power integrity, IR (voltage drop), and design rule checks (DRC).

How the IR (voltage drop) looks in 3D Microwave Studio

This is the Power Integrity in SIMULIA CST.

You can also perform analyses in the 3D MWS and use the export function for the whole board, or just a specific section.

This is the EDA to 3D export in SIMULIA CST.

From here, you can perform analysis on the individual traces or even incorporate the full system.

This analysis can be an important step since it shows how the material properties of the case, housing, or other elements can impact the product’s performance!

This shows simulating with and without housing in SIMULIA CST.

2. Antenna Design and Placement

The next step we can look at is the antenna design process. SIMULIA CST has multiple solvers and work environments for antenna design and simulation.

Whether designing the antenna from scratch or refining an antenna, importing from the vast library found in Antenna Magus, or importing from another model, SIMULIA CST can be a good antenna design software to simulate any parameter you want.

Antenna element to array to full assembly in SIMULIA CST

S-parameters of a four-element array in SIMULIA CST

3. Thermal Analysis

With more power behind antenna designs and higher density due to the smaller size of the device, now it’s time to think about thermal effects and analyses.

Thermal simulation of a complete phone in SIMULIA CST

SIMULIA CST is also a good thermal simulation analysis software. It has multiple thermal solvers built in that can work as a standalone simulation or as an electromagnetically coupled simulation. This means that the thermal effects of the component can be factored into the electrical performance and vice versa. These options are available for multiple solvers and environments.

Active cooling with airflow over electronic components

The control of emissions is important for a similar reason as thermal effects are. Consumer devices must meet certain requirements for different levels of emissions based on the device, and this can be specific absorbed radiation (SAR) and sometimes temperature limits.

Specific absorbed radiation using a phone and a model of a human head

4. EMC, EMI, and SAR Compliance

Similar to SAR, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and electromagnetic interference (EMI) are important factors in the performance of your product design. EMC/EMI can be thought of as any signal that exists outside of your design intent.

For example, think about a microstrip trace radiating a signal that is picked up by another unshielded trace. This unexpected signal interference can be detrimental to your system design.

Simulation can test EMC and EMI, show where your weak points exist, and allow you to add elements like shielding or increasing spacing to limit these effects.

SIMULIA CST’s EMC/EMI solver can help quantify and test how much EMC/EMI is in your design.

Electromagnetic interference of traces without shielding (left) and with shielding (right)

The Bottom Line

SIMULIA CST Studio Suite offers a truly unique one-stop solution for all your electromagnetic design needs from big to small.

Check out our recorded webinar for a deeper dive into simulation and how you can enhance your design lifecycle for consumer electronics.


If you want to learn more about SIMULIA CST Studio Suite, contact us at Hawk Ridge Systems.

Picture of David Skoog

David Skoog

David Skoog is a product specialist in electromagnetic simulation. A native of Massachusetts, he received his master's degree in electrical engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology, which led him to a career in design and analysis of RF communications equipment for the aerospace and defense industry. His hobbies include hiking, traveling, and playing guitar.
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