Numerical Investigation of a Pick-and-Place Machine

From the 2017 Q1 issue of The Connector:

badge-p&p-125x125Students at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden investigated the performance of a pick-and-place machine using CFD. Pointwise was used to perform a grid refinement study for a static simulation where the nozzle of the machine as well as the distance to the component varied. Additionally, an overset mesh was generated for a 1-DOF dynamic simulation. (more)

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Webinar: Surfboard Optimization Using CFD

Cowabunga, dude!

On 25 April 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (central) we’re hosting a live webinar with our friends at CRAFT Tech on how CFD was used to optimize the speed and stability of a surfboard.

Big Wave Surfing

In the extreme sport of Big Wave Surfing, surfers ride specially-designed surfboards known as “Rhino Chasers.” Designed for speed and stability, Rhino Chasers allow the surfer to drop down the face of the tube and generate enough speed to stay ahead of the crest. These waves can reach upwards of 80-100 feet, and the surfers riding them can reach speeds of 50 mph. To these elite surfers, speed and stability are crucial, allowing them to catch that monster wave, ride it, and ultimately survive it.


CFD simulations were performed using CRUNCH CFD.

Big wave surfboard designs tend to concentrate on hydrodynamics, focusing primarily where the board comes in contact with the water. In contrast, the aerodynamics of the board above the water line are often disregarded. By optimizing the aerodynamic performance of a surfboard, higher speeds and improved stability can be realized.

CFD with CRUNCH CFD and Pointwise

Working with one of the world’s top big wave board shapers, engineers at CRAFT Tech have applied computational fluid dynamics (CFD) within a design optimization process, employing a genetic algorithm to evolve the design of a big wave surfboard. By using the meshing tools provided by Pointwise, and automating the process using Glyph scripting, a large design space was explored to aerodynamically optimize the board’s leading edge design. In this webinar, we will examine the tools and the framework that allowed over 100 designs to be explored, resulting in a higher speed, lower drag big wave surfboard design.


A hybrid, viscous volume mesh for the optimized surfboard design was created using Pointwise’s T-Rex algorithm.

In this webinar you will learn about:

  • Characterization of big wave surfing and the aerodynamics of surfboards
  • Defining an optimization framework that leverages CFD to improve surfboard speed and stability
  • Automatic generation of CFD-ready hybrid viscous meshes using Pointwise and Glyph scripting
  • Analysis and testing of the optimized board design for speed and stability

The Details


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This Week in CFD



CFD simulation of a BMW M4 DTM. Image from the BMW blog. See link above.


From Pointwise

  • Pointwise is heavily committed to the 1st AIAA Geometry and Mesh Generation Workshop, to be held the weekend prior to AIAA Aviation in Denver in early June. The workshop involves meshing the NASA High Lift CRM aircraft (one of the benchmark cases for the co-located 3rd AIAA CFD High Lift Prediction Workshop) and sharing the results – not just the meshes, but the level of effort and challenges faced in their generation. Abstracts are due today [but I know a guy so you might be able to send yours next week.]

We had a lot of fun making this movie-inspired poster out of the contest meshes for last year’s International Meshing Roundtable. So much so that we’ve put images of it on our website for your use as desktop wallpaper.


  • Flow Science launched two new user communities on LinkedIn:
  • SimScale blogs about CAE democratization and call price decreases and lowered learning curves the key enablers.

Meshes Built Upon Sand

Artist Jim Denevan‘s medium is sand. To be more specific, beach sand. And on the beach he executes his ephemeral, geometric, line art. When first seen on Colossal, I knew the following analogy had to be made. Now stay with me. His works (especially the more mesh-like ones like the screen capture below) are very much like meshes in that they are built upon unfirm ground (sloppy CAD), can be huge, take a lot of effort to make (more than we would like), and are erased and forgotten as soon as the fluids arrive. That’s not too much of a stretch, is it?


Screen capture from a video profile of artist Jim Denevan and his beach art. See links above.

I had an interesting conversation this morning with a co-worker about my wall of “mesh art” and the role of “craft” or “level of difficulty in execution” in deciding what was good. For example, the center piece (graphite on ceramic) was deemed “not good” because we can easily make a better airfoil mesh in Pointwise. (It caught my eye in the gallery because it reminded me of airfoils.) My counter argument to the “difficulty of execution” statement is that photography should be then relegated to lower status than a child’s crayon art because how difficult is it to point a camera and click one button. (Comedian Louis C.K. does a very funny bit on his young daughter’s drawings which is devilishly funny.)



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This Week in CFD



Radial fan simulation by Dr. Heiser and SimScale. Image from SimScale. See link above. Note: image has been cropped to better fit this document.

Events & News

  • AUVSI XPONENTIAL, “the largest global community of leaders in drones, intelligent robotics and unmanned systems” will be held 8-11 May 2017 in Dallas.
  • ESI acquired Scilab, an open-source MATLAB alternative.



As a guy who cut his teeth on structured grid generation and elliptic PDE methods, this animation caught my eye and held my attention. It’s from an announcement of a workshop on Kangaroo Physics (a physics/constraint solver plugin for Grasshopper).

  • Scan&Solve Pro for Rhino (automated, no-preprocessing, basic structural simulation) was released.
  • CEI launched EnSight 10.2 for CFD postprocessing and visualization.

Grid Farm

When you’re a millionaire art collector, you can afford to purchase 700 acres in Auckland and ask some of the world’s best sculptors to populate it with their best works. The result is the Gibbs Farm.

Not unexpectedly, in the first post I saw on Unusual Places the array of quads shown below immediately pegged my structured grid meter. As described on the Gibbs Farm website, the contrast between the grid of perfect squares and the lush natural terrain is what Red Cloud is all about.


Leon van den Eijkel, Red Cloud Confrontation in Landscape, 1996. Image from Unusual Places. See links above.

P.S. I apologize for the paucity of news this week and possible/likely repetition of old news. Chrome decided (for reasons unknown) to reorganize my bookmarks again making this week’s compilation more of a housekeeping and rediscovery exercise. The problem is likely caused by the extreme number of bookmarks I retain. The last time I backed-up my bookmarks to HTML the resulting file was 33 MB.

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Pointwise Aids in Aerospike Nozzle Analysis

From the 2017 Q1 issue of The Connector:

badge-aerospike-125x125Aerospike rocket nozzles offer increased efficiency over a wider operating pressure range than traditional nozzles. In this study, we compare CFD and experimental predictions of aerospike nozzle thrust for varying pressure ratios and base bleed rates. (more)


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This Week in CFD


  • Kitware released ParaView 5.3.0 with support for multiple core computers, improved rendering, and more.
  • Elysium will be providing a CAD translation and healing solution to Lemma for the latter’s use in their CAE preprocessing.
  • Spatial has added Distene’s tet mesher to their suite of 3-D modeling components.
  • CHAM announced the commercial release of RhinoCFD, a CFD plugin for the Rhino 3-D modeler.
  • PyFR 1.6.0 was released with incompressible solvers and more.
  • NOGRID points 6.2.0 was released. This CFD solver is based on the finite pointset method and does not require a grid. [You don’t know how hard it was for me to type that 😉]

STAR-CCM+ v12.02 promises easier fuel cell modeling as described in this preview. Image from Siemens PLM Software.

Applications & Events & News &…

  • This year’s HPC User Forum will be held 17-19 April in Santa Fe.
  • The 2017 FLOW-3D Americas Users Conference will be held 19-21 September in Santa Fe. Abstracts are due August 4th.
  • RealFlow users will like this list of ways to accelerate their simulations.
  • Totalsim has been awarded a grant to develop a web-based application for aerodynamic simulation of ground vehicles.
  • Congratulations to MSC Software’s Marc, NASA Tech Briefs’ 2016 Reader’s Choice Product of the Year.

Wilson LABS uses Altair’s CFD suite (including AcuFieldView) to fine tune the aerodynamic performance of their sporting goods. Screen shot of Wilson LABS’ video.

Confrontational Mesh

I have to admit that artist Jeremy Moon‘s body of work includes paintings that are much “meshier” than the sculpture I’ve included below. But there’s something about 3D 1 72 that is very confrontational, that forces you to reckon with it even if that means just figuring out how to walk around it. And unlike a “meshy” painting, this work raises the issue of duality; is it one piece or many?

Jeremy MoonUntitled, 1972 (No. 3D1/72) Oil on wood 2-3/4" x 8' x 11' inches

Jeremy Moon, 3D 1 72, 1972. Image from artist’s website. See link above.

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Call for Abstracts is Open for 1st AIAA Geometry and Mesh Generation Workshop

The call for abstracts is open for the 1st AIAA Geometry and Mesh Generation Workshop (GMGW-1) to be held the weekend prior to the AIAA Aviation Forum in Denver on 3-4 June 2017.

“The Principal Bottleneck”

The CFD Vision 2030 Study identified mesh generation (including geometry preparation) as the “principal bottleneck” in the application of CFD. GMGW-1 is a direct result of the AIAA Meshing, Visualization, and Computational Environments technical committee’s intent to take a first step on the path to removing that bottleneck

This two-day workshop will assess the current state-of-the art in geometry preprocessing and mesh generation technology and software as applied to a transport aircraft in a high-lift configuration. It will help identify and develop understanding of areas of needed improvement (performance, accuracy, applicability) in geometry processing and mesh generation technology software. And it will provide a foundation for documenting best practices for geometry preprocessing and mesh generation.

The workshop is being offered in conjunction with the 3rd AIAA CFD High Lift Prediction Workshop (HiLiftPW-3), after which GMGW-1 is being patterned. The two workshops will share opening and closing sessions.

Meshing the HL-CRM


NASA’s High Lift Common Research Model (HL-CRM) will be the basis of GMGW-1 and part of the 3rd AIAA CFD High Lift Prediction Workshop

The workshop’s test case is a simplified version of NASA’s High Lift Common Research Model (HL-CRM), one of the benchmark cases for HiLiftPW-3. The HL-CRM has been simplified in the sense that the slat and flaps are not attached to the wing. Workshop participants will be asked to collect and report data about their experience meshing the HL-CRM geometry.

How To Participate in GMGW-1

  1. Submit an abstract to GMGW-1 by 31 March 2017. Templates for your abstract are available on the GMGW-1 website.
  2. Register for GMGW-1 through AIAA’s website.
  3. Download the HL-CRM geometry from the HiLiftPW-3 website.
  4. Download the GMGW-1 participant questionnaire.
  5. Generate your HL-CRM meshes according to the HiLiftPW-3 gridding guidelines.
  6. Upload your meshes and participant questionnaire by 28 April 2017.
  7. Come to Denver for the workshop on 3-4 June.

Happy Meshing and See You in Denver!

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