One year after its acquisition of Flomerics, a leader in CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) software, Mentor Graphics is building out its mechanical analysis capabilities to accelerate what it sees as a forthcoming paradigm shift in the market: The ability for concurrent CFD analysis as part of the core mechanical design process.
In particular, Mentor is advancing its FloEFD software with new features to accommodate this transition. FloEFD is CFD software that is fully embedded in the MCAD environment. A new release, targeted for availability by end of this year, will incorporate a new feature for predicting cavitation effects in industrial liquids such as fuels and oils. Cavitation is the formation and instantaneous collapse of innumerable tiny voids or cavities within a liquid subjected to rapid and intense pressure changes. Cavitation is an extremely important condition in high pressure systems such as fuel injectors, thus it lends itself to applications in the aerospace and automotive industries.
Mentor essentially sees two user profiles for FloEFD. The traditional profile, the CFD analyst, is formally trained in the discipline (usually with a PhD), typically resides in R&D and runs different models 10 to 20 times annually. This user type typically wants a comprehensive set of features packaged in a highly customizable fashion. The second user type is where Mentor is targeting much of its latest efforts. This user, typically an engineer or designer, is formally trained in fields other than CFD and resides in design or engineering departments. This user will model many designs of the same application over the course of the year, thus is looking for a highly customized set of features packaged in a highly-automated fashion.
That's where FloEFD comes in. The software is designed from the start to be fully embedded in an MCAD solution - the environment that is most familiar to mechanical engineers and designers. "What an engineer or designer expects from CFD is a real-time, push-button, highly automated solution," says Erich Burgel, the new general manager for Mentor's Mechanical Analysis Div. "They want something that is MCAD-embedded - a designer or engineer doesn't want to use or learn a second language."
That's not the case with conventional CFD, which is typically not only a separate technology and application, but also a separate process. Because conventional CFD is a lengthy process, typically separate from the core design, companies perform fewer what-if variants and encounter potential design problems when it is costly and time consuming to make changes. As a result, companies face longer design cycles, which means they could miss out on market opportunities and they're building multiple prototypes, leading to respins and higher development costs, Burgel says.
By embedding CFD analysis capabilities directly into the core MCAD environment, FloEFD will address many of those inhibitors associated with traditional CFD and pave the way for that forthcoming paradigm shift. "This is comparable to the shift we've seen over the last five to 10 years on the FEA side, where people were asking for integrated and embedded FEA solutions," says Burgel.