Mentor Graphics seems to be hammering on two messages with its latest enhancement to its portfolio of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation tools: The continuing importance of upfront systems analysis early in the design cycle, and the idea that it can cover the spectrum of CFD needs, from 1D to 3D analysis, in an accessible, directly from CAD offering.
Leveraging 1D CFD technology from its December acquisition of Flowmaster Ltd., Mentor is pitching what it says is an industry first -- providing tight coupling of 1D and 3D technologies engineered to work natively together with integrated source code.
The system-level Flowmaster 1D CFD tool is typically used for engineering the design of complex fluid network systems like water-cooled electronics racks, aerospace fuel systems, and automotive vehicle thermal management applications. With its 1D, systems-level focus, it allows engineers to perform conceptual studies without requiring 3D geometry to define components, thus enabling them to leverage CFD far earlier in the development cycle.
Upfront 1D-3D CFD solution enables rapid, accurate improvements to CFD simulation workflows.
(Source: Mentor Graphics)
In comparison, Mentor's general-purpose CFD offering, FloEFD, is embedded in leading CAD programs like PTC Creo, Dassault Systemes' CATIA, and Siemens PLM Software's NX, delivering what Mentor calls concurrent CFD capabilities, because engineers can perform CFD studies and conduct what-if scenarios directly from within their preferred CAD tool.
Combining the two capabilities into an integrated workflow and tightly coupled system makes sense for a variety of reasons, according to Mentor executives. Typically, engineers might benefit from the speed and dexterity of analyzing larger systems with the Flowmaster 1D CFD tool, but on other occasions require the accuracy and precision of CFD modeling with the FloEFD 3D system. With the two tool sets as separate entities, engineers are faced with an either/or scenario and dealing with the tradeoffs between the two systems. "You can go with the 3D CFD tool to get detailed accuracy or choose the 1D CFD offering to get fast analysis without the accuracy and the level of detailed information," John Issac, director of marketing for Mentor's Mechanical Analysis Division, told us.
By bringing Flowmaster and FlowEFD together, engineers can leverage the strengths of both systems and examine more variables across a wider array of designs, including taking the accurate and more complex data from the 3D component model and putting it straight into the cooling system model to simulate as a single model. By doing so, engineers are assured of a high accuracy for the components while minimizing the computational resources and execution times at the system level.
Combining the two products in a tightly coupled fashion also enhances Mentor's strategy of virtual prototyping and analysis early on and throughout the design process. "This enhances the upfront engineering message by taking advantage of the power of both tools," said Morgan Jenkins, product line manager for Mentor Graphics' Flowmaster group, in an interview. And by bringing together the code at the source code level, you bypass the need for middleware and there are no compatibility issues.
Without such an integration, system engineers typically have relied on either physical test data, which they feed into Flowmaster, or more recently, they've built custom, one-off integrations between their tools of choice. The problem with the latter approach, Jenkins said, is that it requires a high level of expertise to get all the software working in sync, not to mention, if a software package is updated or modified in any way, then it is back to the drawing board to hardcode the integration, which is a time-consuming and complex process.