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Optimizing Flow Fields with CFD

Nazita Saye

Nazita Saye

Posted Nov 17, 2009

Flow field around an F1 car. Image courtesy of Voxdale.

Flow field around an F1 car. Image courtesy of Voxdale.

For the past few days, I’ve been on the road. Flying to the States is always an adventure … especially during late fall. Air turbulence isn’t much fun – somehow the flight always gets the bumpiest when they serve drinks/food. Go figure. Anyway, during this last flight, I sat next to the window. The flight from San Francisco to Portland was perfectly non-eventful… not a cloud or bump in sight. But this changed as we got closer to Portland. Turns out Portland was having a rather cold/wet day. As we started descending in preparation for landing, we had to go through a thick blanket of fluffy clouds. The flow of air and cloud over the wing thoroughly transfixed me because they reminded me of some of the CFD images I’ve seen over the years depicting flow fields. Come to think of it some of the most amazing 3D CFD analysis pictures that I’ve seen over the years have been on flow fields. Most of these images can even be considered as artwork. For example last year a poster company contacted us about turning one of our analysis images into a lifesize poster!

Flow field analysis, optimization and visualization can be helpful in the design of many products – regardless of whether the flow field being visualized is external (like in the F1 image) or internal (like in a handheld power tool). The thing is though visualizing flow fields is not easy in real life. But with CFD, it’s a fairly easy proposition. In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, here’s a really cool example. AEG is one of the leading manufacturers of handheld power tools for the professional market. Their product portfolio includes more than 100 different tool types and the company sells power tools under two different brands – Milwaukee Electric Tools and AEG Power Tools, Using a modular design for their tools and their platform strategy makes it possible for them to achieve the needs of the different users in a fast and efficient way without losing quality. The design team has found that even small changes in components affects airflow. “Different exterior design and internal components result in completely different airflow in the machine. Testing each configuration would take a lot of time. But with simulation we can identify the effects caused by all the different design options and ensure proper performance for all machines based on the platform” adds Peter Henske, CAD Manager at AEG. Actually, they use CFD for a lot more than just flow field visualization and optimization – they use CFD to optimize their new tools from the start – if you’d like to read more about what they do and how they do please go to this page.

If you’re interested in learning more about flow field optimization, then please take a few minutes to register for an upcoming event titled: Simulating and Optimizing Flow Fields The presentation is about 45-minutes long and will take place on December 9. If you can’t make it on that day, please still feel free to register because everyone who registers will receive a link to the archived version (so you can watch it at your convenience).

I’ll be flying back to England tomorrow – can’t wait to see how the “flow fields” look on the way home.
Until then,

Design Engineer, Flow Field, CFD, Fluid Flow

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About Nazita Saye

Nazita SayeI have been involved with the CFD user community in one shape or another since 1999 -- when the NIKA team first introduced FloWorks to the engineering community. Over the years I've seen the market evolve and I still marvel at the wide range of products that are being designed with our tools. As the Manager of External Communications for the Mechanical Analysis Division at Mentor, it is my privilege to bring some of our customer stories to you. Visit CFD doesn’t mean Color For Directors

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