This Week in CFD

FruitCarving_03-croppedThis week’s news including applications ranging from soiling patterns on cars, to LES of wind turbines, to surfboards (or at least a tease thereof). There are a couple of articles that are food for thought: one about parallelization in particular and another about newish technologies that can potentially change how we design, simulate, and manufacture our products. Speaking of food, here’s a faceted, tasty treat from Colossal that I’ll describe in more detail next time.

Part 1

  • ICYMI, IBM acquired Red Hat for around $34 billion about which IBM’s chairman said it “changes everything about the cloud market.”
  • Here’s a 15-minute video introduction to Autodesk CFD.
  • Not being a car guy I never stopped to consider that electric vehicles provide different aerodynamics than vehicles powered by IC engines (different body shape due to the lack of an IC engine, smooth underbody, etc.). I learned a lot from the two-part article from Dassault Systemes’ Exa folks, Answered: Your Questions on EV Aerodynamics, Part 1 and Part 2.

Soiling patterns predicted by Exa’s CFD for gasoline and electric vehicles. Image from See link above.

Part II

  • As you know, SIMSOLID was recently acquired by Altair. The technology in the former promises “fast and efficient” FEA results on complex assemblies without requiring “geometry simplification or meshing.” How does SIMSOLID work (and the paper it links to) by co-founder Ken Welch provides insight into their secret sauce.
    • If you didn’t know, here’s an article from DEVELOP3D on Altair+SIMSOLID. “The addition of a technology like that found in SimSolid makes huge sense.”
  • Speaking of DEVELOP3D, in a recent article they identify recent activity within the CAE/PLM world that are tantalizing precursors of possible futures: tech that “will assist… in using meshes more closely with solids and surfaces,” complex point clouds, additive manufacturing and the simulation of the parts produces therefrom, generative design, “live” simulation.
    • [Side note: the article begins with the observation that “the vast majority of the world doesn’t really give two shits about 3D design software.” Shouldn’t that be 3 shits about 3D? Asking for a friend.]

A tiny wind tunnel revealed an even tinier vortex that helps dandelion seeds fly. Image above is a screen capture from a video (in which the vortex is more visible) from

Part 3

  • Beta CAE released v19.0.1 of their software suite.
  • American Society of Civil Engineers code ASCE 7 sets minimum requirements for a building’s resistance to loads such as wind loads. None of its three methodologies (simplified, analytical, wind tunnel) mentions CFD. Yet there are several scenarios in which CFD can provide architects, engineers, and urban planners with insights on wind loading as described by SimScale in “ASCE 7: How to Comply With This Standard and the Role of CFD.
  • Reading about the wind turbine application shown below introduced me to the open source Nalu-Wind CFD solver which is a variant of the Nalu flow solver.

This LES simulation of the 5 MW NREL reference wind turbine was produced as part of the Exawind Project that has the goal of advancing the fundamental comprehension of whole wind plant performance. Image from [Note: I wish WordPress would allow captions to be wider than the figure they reference.]

Part IV

  • The 3D Collaboration and Interoperability Congress (“focuses on CAD collaboration and interoperability for the entire product lifecycle”) returns to Golden, Colorado on 8-10 October 2019. Discounted registration fees are available until 31 July 2019.
  • Here’s Visualizing Data’s best of the visualization web for July 2018 and August 2018.
  • Onshape’s blog post Has Parallelization Finally Reach CAD? [spoiler: their answer is “yes”] made me wonder the same about meshing. [Hint: the answer to the latter is also yes but depends on how you define parallelization and whether you’re satisfied with just a handful of meshers that support it versus having be standard and widespread.]

CFD for surfing is a nice tease from


Gravitational Collapse (shown below) is James Clar‘s contribution to an exhibit on how society has been influenced by technology at the Jane Lombard Gallery. it’s quite appropriate to point out that technology influenced the development of this artwork. Design firm LERA+ wrote a plugin for Rhino that vastly simplified the design of the how the metal rods and LED lights were joined thereby allowing the artist a great deal more flexibility on expressing his ideas.


James Clar, Gravitational Collapse, 2018. Image from See links above.

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