This Week in CFD

chilled-beams-les-smallThis week’s must-read article is from Mentor’s Keith Hanna on the topic of solution accuracy, physicality, and ease of use. And there’s a very fun and very cool use of meshing that I didn’t even know was possible until now. The image to the right is an LES simulation of building thermal management. 



Comparison flow velocity of RANS (left) and LES (right) simulations of a building environment and the thermal effects of chilled beams. Image from the CIBSE Journal. full article



A Flowsquare CFD simulation. See link below. Image from

  • preCICE is a “coupling library for partitioned multi-physics simulations” such as coupling a CFD solver and a structural mechanics solver for simulating fluid-structure interaction. [Software like this is significant relative to the main findings of the CFD 2030 Vision Study which states “the development of coupling frameworks will increase in importance with added simulation complexity.”]
  • shares their list of the best free simulation software for students.
  • The article introduced me to Flowsquare for which preprocessing is described as “You simply draw your body in Microsoft Paint, or some other basic graphics package and import the bitmap into Flowsquare.”
  • ADS’ Code Leo 7.0 features a “ludicrous” speed-up of turbomachinery simulations along with a host of other features. [Where “ludicrous” seems to have been defined as 10x minimum. We should all be so lucky to get media coverage with such superlatives.]
  • Using CADfix’s API [did you know it had an API?] you can write plugins that extend its functionality as described in this article about high-order meshing for Nektar++.
  • The Ingrid Cloud offers “automated CFD solutions” based on technology from KTH.

Cut through a high-order mesh around the NASA High Lift CRM generated via a CADfix plugin. Image from See link above.


  • CFD can be used to predict the dispersion of airborne agents from puffs, short-term releases from industrial smokestacks or similar.
  • Mentor’s Keith Hanna [that sounds quite apropos, does it not?] wrote at length about The ‘Right Answer’ in CFD. It is the best thing I read all week. I will torque a quote from his article in a way that (hopefully) doesn’t mangle his overall meaning: democratization must positively impact the production of reliable and accurate results without CFD domain or tool expertise. Democratization is not about “giving a gun to children” as one detractor said.
  • Belgian students designed their electric race car with the aid of CFD software from Numeca.
  • Comparing mesh generators: DistMesh, Gmsh, and Triangle.
  • Tackling air pollution with CFD.

A student design team, Formula Electric Belgium, used NUMECA’s FINE/Open for downforce optimization. Image from See link above.

Plush Meshes (PleshiesTM)

Here at Pointwise we’ve worked on a plugin for our meshing software that produces an STL file of a mesh that’s suitable for 3-D printing. We haven’t quite finished it because grid lines are very thin and thickening them for printing without introducing an insane number of facets into the model is harder than it sounds.

Thanks to alert readers Ray and Carolyn, we can now bypass 3-D printing and go right to knitting a plush version of our meshes. Researchers at the Carnegie Mellon Textiles Lab have developed software that converts a 3-D mesh into instructions for a computer-controlled knitting machine.

You can read a pre-print of their paper, Automatic Machine Knitting of 3D Meshes, and see other examples of their work on their webpage.


Examples of knitted, plush toys (top row) and the 3-D meshes from which they were created (bottom row). Image from See link above.

  • Who knew there were such things as computer-controlled knitting machines?
  • Can you imagine falling asleep while cuddling your mesh of the HL-CRM or ONERA M-6?
  • Stuff like this is a great crossover between my profession and my lovely wife’s affinity for the textile arts.
  • I am now able to remove “Use ‘plush’ in a work-related blog post” from my bucket list.
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