This Week in CFD


  • The ASSESS Initiative (Analysis, Simulation, and Systems Engineering Software Strategies) has launched a Simulation Business Challenges Survey in advance of this year’s congress to deepen our understanding of the current state of practice. Please take time to complete the survey. [If I remember, I’ll post the results here after the congress.]
  • 3-D spatial reasoning has always been a challenge within the field of mesh generation. Along those lines, here’s a new development that efficiently creates 3-D objects from 2-D images. [If this doesn’t make you pause and go “Hmm” I don’t know what will.]
  • Not CFD, but an interesting analogy that related to study of human intellect: aerodynamics for cognition.

Original (top) and optimized (bottom) design of a mixer for an aircraft environmental control system. CFD by STAR-CCM+. Image from Aerospace Manufacturing and Design. See link below.

Events & Job



CFD simulations from COMSOL are helping us understand how the Parvancorina, a 500 million year old sea creature about the size of a penny, moved. Image from COMSOL.


Intelligent Light’s server-side rendering is featured in this NVIDIA article about linking an application with OpenGL. Image from NVIDIA.


  • The recently released ANSYS 18.2 includes unstructured mesh adaptation in the form of a patented technique called PUMA, polyhedral unstructured mesh adaptation.
  • ParaView 5.4.1 (a bug-fix release) is now available.

Clarity via Minimization

Antoine de Saint-Exupery is often quoted as saying “A designer knows when he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

If we agree that principle applies to engineering design why can’t it equally be applied to art? Yet minimal art is often ridiculed as requiring zero effort and therefore deserving zero credit. On Ideelart the article Brilliant Examples of Minimal Art illustrates why minimalism deserves attention, including Agnes Martin’s grid-like work, Friendship, shown below.

Agnes Martin - Friendship

Agnes Martin, Friendship, 1963. From an article on minimalist art from IdeelArt. See link above.

Bonus: Fluid science answers the tough questions of our time. What is the optimal duration for dunking a cookie in milk? Answer: 2-5 seconds. [I personally don’t engage in cookie dunking so I’m interested in readers’ experiences with this finding.]

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Another Intern Farewell: Brian Ta

As the start of the academic year approaches, we continue to experience an outflow of interns. The latest departure was Brian Ta who worked on our Product Development team.


Pat Baker (Manager of Product Development) and intern Brian Ta.

Brian contributed to a new feature for Pointwise that we’re very excited about – a plugin SDK for writing your own mesh importers. Imagine the potential of importing a mesh from virtually any source so you can evaluate all its mesh metric functions that are built-in to Pointwise. Or apply any of Pointwise’s other capabilities to the mesh.

Working under the tutelage of David Garlisch (who is primarily responsible for the CAE Export Plugin SDK and who wrote the mesh import plugin) Brian wrote the first mesh importers for OpenFOAM, ANSYS CFX, SU2, CFD++, and FUN3D. When this new capability is released we also plan to post these plugins’ source code to our GitHub repository as samples for those of you who want to write your own.

By the time you read this, Brian will be on his way back to Texas A&M University for the final semester of his computer science degree. We wish Brian the best of luck for this semester and beyond.

If you’re interested in an internship at Pointwise we usually open them in January. Watch for the details.

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The Connector Newsletter for 2017 Q3

The 2017 3rd quarter issue of our The Connector newsletter is now available on our website at This issue features articles on


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Meshing Books Reviewed in SIAM Review

I’m happy to share with you the publication in SIAM Review (Vol. 59, Issue 3, pp. 693-699, ISSN (online): 1095-7200) of a review, co-authored by Tim Tautges from Siemens and myself, of two mesh generation textbooks. A screen capture of a portion of the issue’s table of contents is shown below.


They tell me the print version of SIAM Review will be mailed within a few weeks. So those of you who are SIAM members and/or have online access will be able to read our review soon. It’s our hope that you find the review both useful and enjoyable.

The Books


How Did This Happen?

I remember back in the summer of 2015 when Tim first proposed that we work together on a review of Delaunay Mesh Generation by Cheng, Dey, and Shewchuk. I was completely caught by surprise. Why would someone with Tim’s technical reputation want to work with a silly blogger on an article that would be fairly complex? But then again, how could I say no? Not content to review one book, we added Lo’s Finite Element Mesh Generation to our task several months later.

For 18 months we talked on the phone once a month to review our notes on each chapter of each book. Each book was my airline reading material on Disneyland trips at least once. I feel like Tim spent most of his time explaining the technical details of the books’ mathematics to me. He’d probably say I spent most of my time keeping us on schedule. Toward the end of the project we visited each other’s home and family and enjoyed some good meals together – and we might’ve discussed the books too.

Reading these two books (multiple times for me) with Tim and our discussions about them became one of the most rewarding projects of my career. I probably learned more about Delaunay meshing techniques from this project alone than in my entire life up until this point (which may not be saying too much).

In the end, it’s all simple math. Two professional acquaintances plus two mesh generation textbooks plus 18 months equals two friends and an article that we hope you find beneficial.

But Wait, There’s More

SIAM has been kind enough to let me post the review in its entirety here on Another Fine Mesh. I hope to do so within the next few weeks.


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This Week in CFD

Pointwise Events

  • Join Pointwise in Stuttgart on 4-5 December for the Pointwise Meshing Technology Conference, a deep dive into our technology for geometry modeling; high-order, structured and unstructured meshing; and lessons learned about mesh effects on CFD results from our participation in recent workshops and conferences. The event is free but registration is required.
    • A special presentation on High-Quality Scalable Meshes will be delivered by Georg Scheuerer, Managing Director of iSimQ.
  • Pointwise will be in Daejeon, Korea on 16 October for a 1-day workshop on Efficient Meshing with Pointwise. Marine and aerospace applications will be discussed with a focus on mesh effects on CFD results. Also on the agenda are geometry modeling and a preview of new capabilities being developed for the software. This workshop is free but registration is required.

Applications & More


Iso-surfaces of velocity are shown from a CONVERGE CFD simulation of a car body passing through a paint bake oven. Image from Convergent Science.

  • Mentor will be recognizing excellence in electronics thermal design with the launch of their FloTHERM Delta TJ Award, to be awarded in September to an entry judged to be the best application of their technology (see announcement for criteria). Entries are due 25 August 2017.
  • Envenio seeks respondents to their CFD survey – how you use it and where you think the challenges are. They promise prizes. [Including a magnum of  Veuve Clicquot champagne.]
  • GE is using CFD to design better 3D printers for metal.
  • CFD was used to simulate the external aerodynamics of what will be Istanbul’s tallest building, the Kucuk Camlica TV tower. [Please pardon the lack of diacritical marks due to my laziness.]
  • Here’s an article describing application of Exa PowerFLOW to aeroacoustic simulation.

SAE shares an article describing variable aerodynamic devices (aka active aero) on a Lamborghini Huracan. Image from SAE.

Software & More


This U.S. Dept. of Energy exascale timeline is part of an article about the storage and I/O components of these future machines. Image from

  • Tecplot released Tecplot RS 2017 for visualizing reservoir simulation results in the oil and gas industries.
  • PLOT3D v4.1 has been updated with new capabilities for CFD visualization and is available through NASA’s technology transfer program. [PLOT3D was the first CFD viz software I used way back in the late 1980s. To see this former winner of NASA’s Software of the Year award still being updated says a lot about its utility.]
  • The OpenFOAM Foundation released OpenFOAM 5.0.
  • CONSELF seeks applicants for a CAE analyst position in Italy.
  • DesignPro seeks a CFD partner for simulation of small-scale river turbines for power generation.
  • Tech Soft 3D shares their perspective on CAD data re-use. “Leverage the BREP [boundary representation] – BREP (geometry and topology) is the starting point for CAD data reuse. The quality of the BREP is critical for many workflow[s].”

Facets, Real and Virtual

I was impressed by Denver’s art scene during my visit to the city this past summer for AIAA Aviation. So this article from the Denver Post about public displays of art caught my eye, especially Sandra Fettingis’ faceted mural, Gem City.


Sandra Fettingis, Gem City. Image from the Denver Post. See link above.

Bonus Video:


Screen capture from the animated short film L’oiseau qui danse by Jean-Marie Marbach. I like the juxtaposition of the faceted bird and flower within a setting that’s very liquid in appearance. Image from Cartoon Brew.

Bonus: How do you go about 3D printing just about anything while ensuring it can stably spin? Spin-It.

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New Issue of The Connector Coming Next Week

The 2017 Q3 issue of our email newsletter, The Connector, is due to be published next week. Subscribe today for an email notification when it is ready to view.



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End of Summer for Intern Christian Atwood

Christian Atwood, an intern in our Technical Support team, gave his end-of-summer presentation today before heading off to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to begin his freshman year.


Intern Christian Atwood and his mentor, Carolyn Woeber  – manager of technical support, at Christian’s end-of-summer presentation.

Yes, that’s right. Christian is a high school senior and will only be starting his college experience in a few weeks. So, what can a high school graduate accomplish at Pointwise? In his own words:

I worked on a CX-100 wind turbine mesh to be used in a “checkerboard” wind farm simulation. I started with the horizontal axis wing from the CX-100, applied a surface mesh with anisotropic tetrahedral extrusion (T-Rex) and built a near field block around each wing. This block was then periodically rotated around 120 degrees for a complete turbine. It will be used with a script that loads the turbine and places multiple instances of the grid on a plane. The completed wind farm will be presented at the North American Wind Energy Academy Symposium in September.

Front-end Documentation was developed for commands in the File menu in Pointwise. Using the user manual text, and making appropriate additions, I created an HTML document for each of the Pointwise commands I worked on.  The end goal is to create an online manual that users can access for information about the software. Also, this process taught me how to effectively capture GUI elements to create web pages that are concise and display only what they need to, aiding in user understanding.

I worked on testing the new Examine, Filter command coming in V18.1, that allows the user to set specific conditions for examining the quality of a grid. I was able to identify several issues that the Product Development team fixed.

I created a yacht mesh for the International Meshing Roundtable meshing contest. This mesh proved to be challenging due to cells with high aspect ratios and small volumes.

We wish Christian the best of luck at ERAU.

If you’re interested in an internship at Pointwise, watch our website: We usually post summer internships in January.

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