Why You Don’t Need to Be a Genius to Run CFD Analyses

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis doesn’t have to be hard, and it certainly doesn’t have to be expensive. Let’s uncover why.

I’m going to pull that wool away from your eyes and demystify the industry misconceptions of robust 3D CAD analysis software so that you, the everyday mechanical engineer or product designer, can innovate more within your designs and worry less.

Best-in-class companies are 53% more likely to conduct their simulations in a virtual environment than their peers, according to an Aberdeen Group research report. When this technology first surfaced in the 1990s, it was primarily used by specialists in large companies due to its complexity and cost. But a lot has changed since the 90s: hair, clothes, and of course technology. It’s 2018, and these tools have evolved in areas such as ease of use, intuitiveness, and depth of capabilities.

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Adopting new technology can seem unnerving. How can you justify the cost to management and the C-suite? Can your team use the software effectively, or do you need to consider bringing an expert onboard? These questions are legitimate, but I can tell you that they are also are outdated woes. Here’s why.

Leverage Cost-Effective, Accurate Design Solutions

Your ultimate goal is to deliver an accurate solution to your customer. So when thinking about the return on investment (ROI) and payback period from your investment, you likely consider a few things.

  1. Did my investment drive down overall costs?
  2. Did my investment decrease development time?
  3. Did my investment design a better product?
  4. Did my investment help me minimize field failures and warranty claims?

The mathematics behind traditional CFD software is consistent. But the preconceived notion that you need to pay ridiculously high prices to lease specialized software for a short period of time, or hire experts to use it, is a fallacy derived from aging paradigms within the industry. The cost of simulation software, regarding the simulation of fluid flow, heat transfers, and fluid force to name a few, has dropped significantly for a perpetual license, and it can easily be used by mechanical engineers with minimal training.

Aside from the initial cost of the software itself, more cost-saving benefits await you within. You can see in the graph below how CAD analysis software improves overall New Product Development and Introduction (NPDI), allowing users of the technology to rectify any design errors before production — thus driving down unwieldy costs in the design process.

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Innovators using virtual simulation saw a 10% decrease in their Engineering Change Orders (ECOs), while product designers still relying on hand calculations actually saw an increase in their ECOs by 8%. By reducing the amount of rework, creating less prototypes, and virtually answering difficult design questions quicker has led to a 13% decrease in overall product costs and a 16% decrease in development time. Now that sounds worth investigating further.

Surrender to the Flow with Intuitive, Easy-to-Use CAD Software

Will your investment in Simulation software help you to design a better product? Let’s find out.

The goal of this design is to identify the best screen shape for a medical suction device. It must allow the highest flow rate for a given suction, limit recirculation within the device, and also create the most uniform velocity profile at the suction head.

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Above we have our model of the device, including a screen with triangular cuts. Flow enters the device through a conical head, flows through the screen, and down the tube. The designer sets up the internal flow in the Project Wizard and defines the inlet and outlet pressure conditions. The goal is to determine the flow rate at a given pressure drop for each of two screen designs — one with triangular cuts as shown in the model, and one with circular cuts — when installed in the suction device.

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Here, in addition to the computed volume flow rate, the engineer uses flow trajectories to show the paths taken by representative air molecules through the device. An animation of the flow trajectories can also be created to produce a better visualization of flow patterns and areas of recirculation.

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Pressure cut plots for each design. Both designs have similar pressure profiles.

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Velocity cut plots with velocity vectors for each design. Both designs have similar velocity profiles at the suction head.

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Trajectory plots showing recirculation zone.

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Trajectory plots in a recirculation zone for each design. While both designs have some recirculation, the zone for the triangular design is larger.

And the results are in. They show a 7.8 percent higher flow rate when using the screen with circular cuts. Both designs have reasonably equal velocity profiles at the suction head, but the circular cut design, however, has a smaller recirculation zone — making it clear that the circular cut design will provide superior performance based upon the original design criteria.

Not only does having this insight into your designs help you create optimal products, which drives down costs in engineering/design time, materials, prototypes, warranties, and more, but it strengthens your competitive position and tells your customers that you are staying relevant to their needs.

Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” These types of analyses are no longer reserved for an exclusive group of designers and engineers. They are now affordable and available to the everyday mechanical engineer so that he or she can truly do more with best-in-class technology and a brilliant mind.

Webinar:
Computational Fluid Dynamics Made Easy!

Explore how easy and powerful virtual flow analysis 3D design software is to use, and discover the cost savings and productivity-boosting benefits in this webinar!

CFD Made Easy