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Mentor Takes Its Concept of "Concurrent CFD" to NX

Continuing to march to the mantra of what it calls "concurrent CFD simulation," Mentor Graphics announced the latest in its string of CFD applications designed to work directly inside of CAD programs-this time, for Siemens PLM Software's NX program.

Released this week at the PLM World user conference, the new FloEFD for Siemens NX seamlessly integrates with the CAD tool, allowing users to work directly with native NX geometry to perform an array of simulation capabilities, including highly turbulent flow fields, compressible flows, combustion and cavity modeling. The NX releases joins versions of FloEFD already available for other leading CAD tools, including SolidWorks, CATIA and PTC's ProEngineer.

Mentor Takes Its Concept Of “Concurrent CFD” To NX
Unlike most CFD programs, which are typically standalone environments tuned to the needs of highly-trained CFD specialists,Mentor's approach with "concurrent CFD" is to embed the analysis capabilities deep within the context of the CAD environment, making them available in a familiar and accessible way to mainstream designers and engineers. With its approach, Mentor is attempting to satisfy the needs of two distinct audiences: The traditional CFD user who wants a highly sophisticated, feature-rich specialized tool for their day-to-day analysis tasks in addition to the more casual engineering user who might want to tap CFD capabilities on occasion, but doesn't currently do so regularly because they are not part of their familiar environment.  

Moreover, by blending and automating certain CFD functions within the context of CAD, Mentor is attempting to bring efficiencies to the iterative, "throw-it-over-the-wall" hand-off that currently defines the working relationship between engineers and analysis experts as they move product designs through the development process. The ability to create a design, run CFD analysis on that design, make changes and then rerun simulations as part of one integrated process is key to promoting the use of analysis far earlier in the design cycle. In addition, enabling engineers to do some analysis on their own, within the familiarity of their CAD tool, will go a long way in shortening the overall development time.

"When you are within the same CAD environment, at any point in process without leaving the CAD tool, you can perform CFD, get feedback on flow and have it affect the design all through process," notes Chris Watson, Mentor's senior application engineer.

Merely being embedded in a CAD tool isn't enough, Watson says. With the concept of Concurrent CFD, Mentor is pushing integration even further, adding capabilities to the FloEFD tools that take steps out of the process and automate some of the basic simulation functions. For example, with FloEFD for NX and the other variations, there is no need to transfer geometries between CAD and CFD package and there are capabilities for automating the meshing process. "If you're just putting classic CFD code into [CAD], it still takes the same expertise to do the CFD run-you need to know how to mesh, what to put in the run, why something blew up, how to play around with relaxation factors," Watson explains. "If all of that is still required even in the CAD tool, you've only addressed part of the problem. You've made it better for the analyst who's CAD savvy, but you've not done anything to help the regular mechanical engineer without a background in CFD."

Mike Dunn, lab manager at Hutchinson SSI, uses both FloEFD and NX, and anticipates the new integration will have a significant impact on minimizing design-to-analysis time. "This product has the potential to utilize design enhancements made during the analysis to save us three days or more in our current process," he says.

FloEFD will ship in early June.
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