Well-known CFD software vendor Flomerics, acquired last year by Mentor Graphics, is making a new appearance. Its new identity is as the Mechanical Analysis Div. of Mentor Graphics. And with the new name comes a significant new mission, that if accepted by us engineers could significantly expand the role that CFD analysis plays in design.
First, a bit of background. Mentor Graphics (founded 1981, headquartered in Wilsonville, Ore.) is a major player in electronic design automation (EDA) and mechanical analysis (MCAE). They are known for software and hardware devices for board, chip and mechanical design. When they recently visited our offices, they first focused on how CFD could expand business in these core markets.
Comparison of concurrent CFD with more conventional analysis. When CFD is embedded in the
design process and used along with CAD, the design process is improved and shortened.
But they also see a significant new role for CFD in mechanical design, and it could mark a significant shift in how we use this important technology. The key phrase they mention is Concurrent CFD, based on their FloEFD software, “fully embedded in the mechanical design environment.” Their research has led them to feel that there are two types of users of CFD.
With concurrent CFD, the design process may take as little as 25-35% of the time required with conventional CFD analysis.
Two types of CFD users
One type is the traditional class of CFD Analysts:
• Formally trained in CFD
• Typically reside in R&D or related departments
• Typically model 10 to 20 very different applications in one year
• Need a comprehensive set of features packaged in a user-modifiable manner
A second type of user includes engineers and designers who use CFD:
• Formally trained in other fields
• Typically reside in design or engineering departments
• Typically model many designs of the same application in any one year
• Need a custom set of features packaged in a highly-automated product
They feel that this type of engineer – which likely includes many readers of Design World, as well as this editor – want their CFD to be real-time, pushbutton, automated, easy-to-use, and MCAD-embedded. They feel that traditional CFD often doesn’t mesh well with product design, leading to:
• Fewer “what-if” variants = Sub-optimum design
• Longer design cycle = Missed market windows
• Multiple prototypes and re-spins = Higher development costs
Mentor sees these advantages to concurrent CFD:
• Engineers and designers can focus on what they do best within their native CAD environments while performing fast and accurate CFD
• Increases engineer and designer productivity
• Accelerates design and development cycles up to orders of magnitude and optimizes product design workflows
• Enables frequent “what if?” decision making, leading to innovative, higher quality and more custom products
• Minimizes design risk and re-spins
Concurrent CFD places analysis in the hands of the designer or engineer rather than the analyst.
As Mentor has moved forward with their vision of concurrent CFD, they’ve found acceptance among large users of CFD. In one example, Graco engineers used FloEFD to optimize the design of a new plural component spray gun in 1/3 the time that would have been required to produce an acceptable but not optimized design using the trial-and-error method.
“The use of software prototypes made it possible to explore a much wider design space than would have been possible with physical prototypes,” says Rick Anderson, Senior Project Engineer at Graco. It’s important to note that I achieved these results despite the fact that I am a design engineer without any training in CFD.”
Filed Under: Simulation, Software