This Week in CFD

Learn More About the Ciespace Platform

Jeff Waters interviews John Buchowski, VP of Product Management at Ciespace, about CFD in the cloud and more specifically the fact that Ciespace is a platform not a product. Some notable comments from John and Jeff:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS) is the leading edge of a new way of delivering CAE applications.
  • Ciespace has been developed from the ground-up to be a SaaS application that’s delivered natively in your web browser.
  • OpenFOAM is the most widely used CFD solution behind only ANSYS and CD-adapco.
  • Meshing is one of the roadblocks that prevents people from being successful with CFD.
  • “Appification” of CAE is the way to get more engineers to benefit from the technology.
Screen capture of a video demonstrating the Ciespace platform.

Screen capture of a video demonstrating the Ciespace platform.


  • Monica Schnitger provides some clarifying thoughts on software pricing versus delivery.
  • The June/July issue of the International Journal of CFD is now online. (Registration required.)
  • GrabCAD shares their thoughts on CAD file formats. (PDF)
  • The Various Consequences blog tackles the issue of ITAR (international traffic in arms regulations) and export control as it pertains to two very specific cases. However, the article cites a public domain exemption from ITAR. And, if open-source is the same as public domain, the implications for software are interestingly inconsistent. In other words, it seems to imply you can export your open source CFD code to whomever you want but if you charge money for the same code you’ll be subject to export regulations. [I am not a lawyer, can’t vouch for the veracity of what the blog post actually says, and probably am interpreting it incorrectly anyway.]
  • Beta CAE scheduled their North American Open Meeting for 02 October 2013 in Plymouth, Michigan.
  • A team of aerospace engineering graduate students from the University of Maryland won the American Helicopter Society’s student design competition with their Gamera II entry.


I've been waiting for someone to do this. The Vincent Lab at the Imperial College London has 3D printed the wall shear stress from a CFD simulation of flow through an artery. Image from Twitter.

I’ve been waiting for someone to do this. The Vincent Lab at the Imperial College London has 3D printed the wall shear stress from a CFD simulation of flow through an artery. Image from Twitter.

Screen capture from a video demo of NASA's Hyperwall 2.

Screen capture from a video demo of NASA’s Hyperwall 2.

What Do Exploding Flowers Have To Do With CFD?

Nothing at all. But I was tired of getting scooped by FYFD and figured this was a unique and cool thing so show. So, if you freeze flora in liquid nitrogen and then blast them with a jet of air (perhaps that’s the fluid dynamics tie-in) they explode and make for nice photographs. This is Martin Klimas’ Rapid Bloom.

Martin Klimas' Rapid Bloom. Image from My Modern Met.

Martin Klimas’ Rapid Bloom. Image from My Modern Met.

OK, here’s some CFD. Neatorama writes about reading textbooks for pleasure and specifically cites Ferziger and Peric’s Computational Methods for Fluid Dynamics. Duh, doesn’t everyone do this?

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20 Responses to This Week in CFD

  1. Martin Hegedus says:

    I’m not a lawyer either, but, as far as I understand, there is not a public domain software exemption for ITAR by civilians. Yes, a cognizant government official can place something in public domain. Of course there are exceptions. If one writes a patent, they are able to put the information into the public domain. We had a long discussion about this over at the Linkedin ITAR forum. I think the DIY drones people cherry picked information which fit their needs.

    This being said, physics based CFD software is not ITAR unless it has been enhanced with real world data. (again I’m not a lawyer)

    I suspect if someone developed a very sophisticated guidance and control software that recognized military/terrorist targets, it would be ITAR, regardless of whether it is open source or not. Or if someone designed a control system for a missile. On the other hand, DIY drones probably not. One of the metrics the government uses is “what was the intent”. Also, the government does not have to act right away. They can wait until the software developer steps way over the line and then retroactively bust them.

  2. John Chawner says:

    Martin, as we like to say here: Uncle Sam will never tell you how to do something correctly, but he will point out each and every way that you’ve done it wrong.

  3. jstults says:

    Hi Martin, I think you are wrong about that, but I am not a lawyer either. The public domain exception for ITAR is defined in the law (I excerpt the relevant section in that post linked above), and there is case law illustrating the tension between first amendment rights and arms control restrictions specifically addressing source code (not CFD, but encryption: Bernstein v. US, Junger v. Daley).

    • ITAR is extremely complicated and to try to boil it down into a short blog is impossible and, to a certain extent, can be misleading. And the subject is definitely not black and white. One can not say whether ITAR applies unless all the facts are know.

      Anyone who thinks ITAR might apply to them, should see a lawyer!!! (Or course the answer you get will depend on the type of lawyer you talk to. Export control lawyers and constitutional lawyers do not see eye to eye on all the topics.)

      In regards to public domain, this is the statement to focus on “(7) Through public release (i.e., unlimited distribution) in any form (e.g., not necessarily in published form) after approval by the cognizant U.S. government department or agency (see also § 125.4(b)(13) of this subchapter); ”

      The government does not feel I can just publish technical data, place it in the library or sell it at a bookstand, and say the first amendment protects me. A cognizant U.S. government person must OK it. It has to get into the public domain first. If I design a new state of the art missile seeker and place the software for it in the public domain, I expect various three letter organizations to come after me. And a full professional grade G&C is not a normal academic exercise.

      If one wants the government to make a judgement they need to file a Commodity Jurisdiction (CJ) request.

      Whether one designs G&C, guns, or whatever, a lot of real world experience needs to go into the design to make it successful. In regards to G&C stuff. Not all G&C stuff is ITAR. It must meet certain criteria. In the grand scheme of things, the stuff at DIY drones is not advanced, at least when compared to the military. For example, and I believe this is stated at DIY drones, the software and hardware they have is meant for stable light weight flight vehicles (i.e. PID controllers). Once vehicles become unstable or gain mass (i.e. time lags between control input and reaction) the control system must take that into account. For this one needs a plant model. This is where CFD comes in. Also time lags on actuators, electronics, etc. must be taken into account. And one must know what the mass and moments of inertia are. I have not seen anyone at DIY drones actually trying to predict the aerodynamics nor incorporating time lags. BTW, it has been a long time since I was a G&C person (i.e. in school) so I could be very wrong.

      There is a difference between real world technology and what one learns in school or reads in books. The devil is in the details.

      I also think individuals must be careful when invoking their first amendment rights when it comes to detailed technical information.

      BTW, I don’t believe low caliber guns falls under ITAR.

      • jstults says:

        Here’s a good article with relevant background on public domain and free speech as it may apply in the Defense Distributed case (if there ever is one actually brought). Requiring government approval prior to publishing certainly seems to be the State Department’s position, but they’ve had trouble making that stick in the past. It will be interesting to see if that case actually makes it to court.

      • Martin Hegedus says:

        In regards to Bernstein, I believe that case did not make it to court because the ITAR rules were rewritten. Cryptography was shifted from ITAR to EAR. I believe EAR does have an explicit exclusion for public domain software. However, it must be free and anonymous. Again, lawyers are required.

        Jstults, here is the thing, you are making an argument for placing the plans and software on the internet for things like a shoulder mounted missile by using the first amendment. That will not happen (I hope!). The first amendment is not absolute. Of course the subject about plastic printed guns is much more gray.

        In regards to Defense Distributed, I believe there is more to the story. The plastic gun was not the only plan on the site. For example, I believe, plans for a silencer were also there. As far as I know, that is a no no in regards to ITAR.

      • jstults says:

        Martin said,

        I believe that case did not make it to court because the ITAR rules were rewritten

        No; from the page I linked: “After four years and one regulatory change, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that software source code was speech protected by the First Amendment and that the government’s regulations preventing its publication were unconstitutional.”

        You don’t have to guess what the State Department had a problem with. They spell it out: ten items, and at the top of the list is the plastic .22 caliber Liberator pistol (a Category I item). You brought up missiles. I am certainly not making the argument you claim. I am talking about sharing files on the internet. Specifically, the files for a crappy, plastic .22 caliber pistol.

        You are right that the First Amendment is not absolute, but prior restraint (government censorship before publishing) is presumed to be invalid. I think there are national security interests that should trump freedom of the press / speech, but ITAR is probably still far too broad. It’s absurd to view the export of files for a plastic .22 as any sort of threat to national security comparable with “the sailing dates of transports or the number and location of troops” (see the prior restraint link, and of course this classic SNL : – ).

        This discussion is pretty far off topic for a bunch of CFD nerds, so I certainly appreciate our host’s indulgence, and thanks for your good points too Martin! Can you share a link to the discussion you mention on the DIYDrones?

  4. John Chawner says:

    Martin, you are absolutely right when you wrote “Anyone who thinks ITAR might apply to them, should see a lawyer!!!”

  5. Martin Hegedus says:

    BTW, I was completely wrong in regards to Bernstein not making it to court. So much for my memory. I got mixed up with that whole ITAR to EAR switch.

    That being said, as with so many verdicts, one needs to read the verdict and explicitly see what was said. And, unfortunately, I don’t have the time to do it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the judges’ ruling was more narrow (i.e. constrained) then how it first appears.

  6. Martin Hegedus says:

    OK, I could not resist.

    Read the concluding remarks:

    “We emphasize the narrowness of our First Amendment holding.   We do not hold that all software is expressive.   Much of it surely is not.   Nor need we resolve whether the challenged regulations constitute content-based restrictions, subject to the strictest constitutional scrutiny, or whether they are, instead, content-neutral restrictions meriting less exacting scrutiny.   We hold merely that because the prepublication licensing regime challenged here applies directly to scientific expression, vests boundless discretion in government officials, and lacks adequate procedural safeguards, it constitutes an impermissible prior restraint on speech.”

    … “First, we note that insofar as the EAR regulations on encryption software were intended to slow the spread of secure encryption methods to foreign nations, the government is intentionally retarding the progress of the flourishing science of cryptography.   To the extent the government’s efforts are aimed at interdicting the flow of scientific ideas (whether expressed in source code or otherwise), as distinguished from encryption products, these efforts would appear to strike deep into the heartland of the First Amendment. ”

    … “Whether we are surveilled by our government, by criminals, or by our neighbors, it is fair to say that never has our ability to shield our affairs from prying eyes been at such a low ebb.   The availability and use of secure encryption may offer an opportunity to reclaim some portion of the privacy we have lost.”

    I personally doubt that the government is restricting the science of 3D printing by restricting the availability of plans for silencers. And easy/cheap to make silencers is not about helping my personal well being. BTW, I gather, the silencer was called “Dirty Diane” in reference to Dianne Feinstein. It is my opinion that Cody Wilson will have a very large legal bill coming up.

    • jstults says:

      Martin, thanks for reading further. The important thing about the Bernstein decision is that some source code is “expression”, and that it is unconstitutional for the State Department to exercise prior restraint against that expression.

      I think since Wilson was making a political statement, the State Department’s action “strikes deep” here too. Prior restraint of political speech? Sounds like a tough one to justify. It’s also pretty clear that people use stl files as a form of expression (just take a look at Thingiverse). The top of the State Departments list in their letter is his plastic .22 (which is a Category I item on the USML). I don’t know where exactly to draw the line, but ITAR as it is today is far to broad to be Constitutional.

      • jstults says:

        Ooops, sorry; I thought my longer comment up the thread got eaten by wordpress, so this is a little repetitive. Thanks for the good discussion Martin, you make some good points.

  7. Martin Hegedus says:

    Yes, I realize that the .22 was probably the focus. I just can’t help but think it was politically motivated and the State Dept. probably did not want to get involved in that one. LOL, I wouldn’t be surprise if there are some State Dept individuals printing out their guns while we write!

  8. Martin Hegedus says:

    I just now got an email notifying me that jstults replied to my “In regards to Bernstein, I believe that case did not make it to court because the ITAR rules were rewritten.” (which, BTW, I wrote I was incorrect BEFORE jstults wrote his reply)

    In that comment jstults wrote:

    “This discussion is pretty far off topic for a bunch of CFD nerds, so I certainly appreciate our host’s indulgence”

    ITAR, technical data, and interacting with the public affect our industry, (aerodynamics). Surface definitions (i.e. stl/cad files) for things on the munitions list is an aspect of aerodynamics for some. John and I are not just CFD nerds, we are aerodynamic nerds. And the very first thing brought up on the referenced blog, even before DIY drones and Defense Distributed, was NTRS. NTRS hits very close to home for I, and maybe John.

    IMO, this discussion is about how technology brings every day individuals closer to the munitions list. At this moment, due to CFD, the civilian public does not have a problem (other than maybe CPU power, but that is just around the corner, if not here already) doing aerodynamic analysis of some items on the munitions list.

    One moment politicians are upset at NTRS and gun printing, and the next they will be upset at bright high school students and enthusiasts doing CFD of fighters, missiles, rockets, rocket engines, and reentry vehicles.

    BTW, the last few days I’ve been suffering from a sinus infection and my head feels like it is ready to explode. I’m also going to let my impression that the “bunch of CFD nerds” comment was meant as an insult pass.

    • jstults says:

      Hi Martin, I certainly did not mean the “bunch of CFD nerds” comment to be an insult! I am so sorry you took it that way. I take great pride in being a jr CFD nerd, and I really like your site with the interesting solutions that you post: no offense intended (only disagreement, not disrespect).

      I really do appreciate the discussion. I think these are important issues. Sorry I didn’t see your comment sooner, and this apology is so belated!

  9. John Chawner says:

    Martin, allow me to wish you a speedy recovery and easy access to antihistamines.
    I’m certain that the CFD nerds comment was not meant as an insult.
    And perhaps this conversation has run its course.

    • Martin Hegedus says:

      Just saw your comment after I post the next one. Thanks. I personally think things will get interesting, in regards to CAE and ITAR, as these tools get easier and easier to use and available on general consumer machines.

  10. Martin Hegedus says:

    One more item, if an individual wants to do CFD of a fighter aircraft (and, honestly, how cool is that!) for the fun of it (i.e. not a school exercise) and is going to place it in the public, it is very likely the government feels they need to go through the CJ process. Well, that’s what some export control lawyers say. Again, I’m not a lawyer nor am I giving legal advice.

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