Some more thoughts on the fluent design vs. laminar flow analogy
In my last post I used the example of an airfoil to illustrate a product design (object) that passes smoothly, or fluently through the design process (a fluid) without causing much turbulence (design rework) that otherwise disrupts the downstream flow (late in the design process) making the flow take longer to recover (increasing the time to design closure).
For this to happen the product design (object) has to be the right (i.e. aerodynamic) shape. In our analogy it means that the product has to be as fit-for-purpose as possible at all stages of the design. That means that the analysis has to be done upfront in the design process, from the concept design stage.
The less aerodynamic the object, the more work needed to push it through the flow. This additional work is converted into turbulence which eventually decays to heat. This extra work is effectively entropy, being a measure of the disorder or randomness in the system. Clearly we want to minimize randomness leaving as little to chance as possible, or we will have to deal with it through late design rework. Performing CFD analysis upfront is the way to create a fluent design process, so we know as much as possible about the way the design will perform before we commit details into the MCAD and EDA design suites. We also need to do CFD concurrent with any changes made as the design is elaborated. Concurrent CFD is achieved through embedding CFD within the mechanical CAD software.
The laminar flow vs. fluent design analogy works best when we’re dealing with external aerodynamic design of a product like a race car or aeroplane. Conveniently that gives me the opportunity to shamelessly plug one of our division’s educational programs, which is something I care passionately about.
We’re working with PTC to support the US DoE’s Real World Design Challenge. It’s an annual competition that provides high school students in grades 9-12 the opportunity to work on real world engineering challenges in a team environment. Registration is underway for the 2010 competition and we’ve currently got around 400 teams from 300 schools in 25 states signed up to use FloEFD.Pro to design a more fuel-efficient airplane. That’s up from 10 states in 2009. The aim is to inspire and engage all students in STEM education and systematically highlight the potential of future workers in science and engineering fields.
If you thought CFD was the exclusive domain of professional analysts think again. In years to come first year university students will already have experience of CFD. If you’re an experienced engineer working in mechanical design and want to increase your skills then you can download a free evaluation copy of FloEFD.Pro and teach yourself.
If high school students can use FloEFD.Pro, then so can you! Check out the winning team’s presentation in which they describe how they went about producing their design – you may well learn something about aerodynamics!