ANSYS Sherlock: Product Life Prediction for Electronics

ANSYS Sherlock is an automated design analysis software that provides fast and accurate life predictions for electronic hardware at the component, board and system levels in early design stages.

Approximately 73% of product development costs are spent on the test-fail-fix-repeat cycle. Ansys Sherlock accelerates this process by empowering designers to accurately model silicon–metal layers, semiconductor packaging, printed circuit boards (PCBs) and assemblies to predict solder fatigue failures due to thermal, mechanical and manufacturing conditions. This helps eliminate test failures and design flaws, accelerate product qualification and introduce groundbreaking technologies.   

A unique, powerful capability of Sherlock is its revolutionary ability to rapidly convert electronic CAD (ECAD) files into CFD and FEA models with accurate geometries and material properties. Through its powerful parsing engine (capable of importing Gerber, ODB and IPC2581 files, etc.) and embedded libraries containing over 500,000 parts, Sherlock reduces pre-processing time from days to minutes and automates workflows through its integration with Ansys Icepak, Ansys Mechanical and Ansys Workbench.

In post-processing simulation results from Icepak and Mechanical, Sherlock is able to predict test success, estimate warranty return rates and make Icepak and Mechanical users more efficient by directly connecting simulation to material and manufacturing costs.

How Ansys Sherlock Simulations Optimise Electronic Hardware Design

Sherlock can be used at every step in the hardware design process and is most valuable when implemented in the early design stages.

Additionally, Sherlock’s Locked IP Model protects intellectual property in the supply chain. With the Locked IP Model, you can transfer designs between design suppliers and design users while preserving PCB design details; the intended use of the PCB design will not be disclosed via environmental conditions or reliability requirements. This communication tool enables two entities to work together on a system with a layer of trust built into the reliability calculations.

Ansys Sherlock simplifies and improves reliability prediction using a unique, three-phase process consisting of data input, analysis, and reporting and recommendations.

Data Input

With its extensive parts/materials libraries, Sherlock automatically identifies your files and imports your parts list, then builds an FEA model of your circuit board in minutes by:

  • Parsing standard EDA files (schematic, layout, parts list) automatically
  • Using embedded libraries (part, package, materials, solder, laminate)
  • Building box-level finite element analysis models


Sherlock produces a holistic analysis that is critical to developing reliable electronics products. It enables designers to simulate each environment, failure mechanism and assembly that a product might encounter over its lifespan.

Assessment options include:

  • Thermal cycling
  • Mechanical shock
  • Natural frequency
  • Harmonic vibration
  • Random vibration
  • Bending
  • Integrated circuit/semiconductor wearout
  • Thermal derating
  • Conductive anodic filament (CAF) qualification
  • High-fidelity PCB modeling

Reporting and Recommendations

  • Life curve
  • Red-yellow-green risk indicators
  • Tabular display
  • Graphical overlay
  • Binned results based on reliability goals
  • Automated report generation
  • Locked IP model for review by suppliers/customers

Leveraging Physics of Failure

Instead of using statistical models to predict reliability without gaining insight into why something failed, Sherlock’s Physics of Failure-based approach leverages knowledge and understanding of the processes and mechanisms that induce failure in order to improve product performance.

Accelerating Design Analytics

Unlike any other tool on the market, Sherlock uses files created by your design team to build 3D models of electronics assemblies for trace modeling, post-processing of finite element analysis and reliability predictions. This early insight translates to almost immediate identification of areas of concern and gives you the ability to quickly adjust and retest designs.

Reducing Manufacturing Risk

Design for Manufacturability (DfM) and Design for Reliability (DfR) are not mutually exclusive. Sherlock considers both to mitigate manufacturing risk by assessing solder reliability, strain measurement, suppliers, materials selection and post-assembly handling operations.

Faster Testing

Product development requires a substantial investment of time and money — and it doesn’t guarantee passing qualification testing the first time. Sherlock reduces expensive build-and-test iterations by virtually running thermal cycling, power-temperature cycling, vibration, shock, bending, thermal derating, accelerated life, natural frequency, CAF and more so you can adjust designs in near real-time and achieve qualification in one round.

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