CFD doesn’t mean Color For Directors

Technology for technology sake doesn’t make sense in this economy. So to help you gather ROI information for your management team, my blog will focus on the business side of simulation. I’ll share how design engineers using CFD have improved product functionality across a wide range of industries and applications while shortening their time to market cost-effectively. And to add a bit of spice, I’ll feature “state of the union” interviews with industry pundits on a regular basis.

26 June, 2014

Recently a couple of my friends came to England to do a grand tour of the island. We arranged to meet half-way through their three week journey. The plan was simple. I would take the train from London to Norwich where they’d pick me up and we’d drive 181 miles north to York for the weekend. By we I mean Alan was going to drive while Susan and I were going for a ride. A perfect opportunity to catch up on three years worth of gossip.

After a very enthusiastic greeting at the train station, we made our way to the parking structure where they’d left the car. Now I am always conscious of having visitors from the States around and tend to walk on the outside so I can yank back those who look the “wrong” way when attempting to cross roads. After our 10 minute walk I was overjoyed at not having to rescue anyone … after all they’d been traveling around England for a few days by then and used to looking the other way. I nested among the luggage in the back and started catching up with my friends.

Then the real fun started.

We stopped at a red light where the SATNAV instructed us to make a left-hand turn. Alan proceeded to make his left turn accompanied by a rather loud and surprisingly shrill Noooooooo from yours truly. In case you haven’t driven in England, it is illegal to make a left-hand turn on red (in the States you are allowed to make a right turn on red only when it’s safe to do so and if there are no signs forbidding you). Thankfully there was no one around except for one woman who as she drove by gave Alan the dirtiest look ever (and it was richly deserved).  Apparently they’d been doing that for days. Yikes… I wonder how many traffic cameras have tagged them in the process.

Strictly as a measure of self-preservation, I moved to the center seat, barricaded myself on both sides by bags and became a back-seat road rules interpreter for Alan. This sign means the other car has priority over us while using this stretch of the road so you need to wait HERE. Unless otherwise posted, if there are streetlamps around in a city/town/village, the speed limit is 30 so we really should slow down a bit… You get the picture. Let’s just say my blood-pressure dropped back to double digits only after we reached York and left the car in the parking lot for the remainder of the weekend.

Fast forward to this week. There seems to be a veritable cornucopia of articles about self-driving vehicles in the news. For example, I just read an article about how driver-less vehicles are gaining popularity even off-road!  The article had a great snippet about how the State of Michigan requires that while testing these vehicles on public roads a human needs to be in the driver’s seat at all times in case something goes wrong.

Now, our company provides a wide range of technology that helps engineers make amazing progress towards making driver-less cars a reality. I think I recently read that electronics account for 40% of traditional car production costs (I also seem to remember that percentage increases to 65-70% for electric cars). That’s a lot of electronic components. So from thermal characterization to thermal simulation we’ve got the right enabling technology to help engineers design these next gen electronics.

It’s all fantastic.

But when I hear about driver-less vehicles I get a bit sad. I’m not against progress but I’m a motorhead and I love driving. I smile from ear to ear as I drive on some of these winding English country roads with the wind in my hair. Pure bliss! So I am not overjoyed at the thought of giving up control of my car to… well… my car (and you know how much I adore my Mini). It’s like the Beach Boys song… fun, fun, fun, til “daddy” took the T-Bird away… just replace the word daddy with a car manufacturer of your choice and you see what I mean. No more going for a drive for the fun of it… instead you go for a ride (that is until someone learns how to hack the system). Intellectually I understand the benefits but the emotional side of my brain is having a really hard time with this. That is until this morning when thinking back at my adventure from a couple of weekends ago, I realized that in cases where you’ve got a driver who’s used to driving on a different side of the road, then maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all. I think car rental companies would welcome this market niche for sure :-)
Until next time,
Nazita

PS. If you ever make it to this side of the pond, please do venture outside of London. Bath, Cambridge, Devon, the Peak District, and York (among many others) are just as wonderful. Besides I promise the natives are friendlier than their London counterparts and even speak the same language – well almost ;-P

View of York Minster - the largest gothic cathedral in North Europe. All rights reserved, N Saye

View of York Minster – the largest gothic cathedral in North Europe. All rights reserved, N Saye

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5 June, 2014

I’ve been traveling a lot lately – a bit for business, a bit for pleasure. Being a seasoned traveler I refuse to fly budget airlines. Call me a snob but I like certain creature comforts. You can take away your packets of peanuts/pretzels. You can get me to pay for my meals and drinks. However, I draw the line at legroom. I’m used to rubbing knees and shoulders with strangers while traveling on trains and buses in England. It makes for some awkward smiles and a bit of shuffling but in the end everyone finds an angle that they can tolerate for the duration of the journey (more often than not it helps if you’re a contortionist). Yes I know I’m just shy of 5’6 but when there is less than a couple of inches of room between my knees and the seat of the passenger sitting in front of me then even my eternally happy soul becomes a bit grouchy. Especially on long-haul flights. I loathe to think how someone even a couple of inches taller than me feels sitting in the same seat.

Some airlines are dealing with the situation by adding extra legroom to a select number of seats in the main cabin and charging a premium for them. Others deal with it by getting rid of all reclining seats to give passengers more room. Allegedly reclining seats lead to all sorts of troubles on planes. And I agree… I’ve been witness to a few temper tantrums in my day. The situation isn’t fun for anyone – including the poor souls having to endure sitting next to a seemingly normal person who has turned into a sweating raging oversized 2-year-old. A couple of years ago I made the mistake of suggesting to the guy sitting across the aisle from me that perhaps he should put the laptop on his lap. His “face of thunder” told me to mind my own business which I proceeded to do promptly for the remainder of the flight. And oh, over the years I’ve practiced my newfound skill many a times.

Cabin comfort seems to be on manufacturers’ agenda too.

According to a recent Businessweek article Boeing’s new 777X jetliner is undergoing major design changes to allow for more creature comforts. Their crack design teams are considering factors such as changing entertainment needs, noise-dampening and improved air quality. Brilliant! I can personally vouch for the need for improved airflow and quality. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have sat down in my seat only to be immediately assaulted by a stream of freezing air from above my head. And any attempts at fixing the flow results in either an even more aggressive arctic blast or a sorry excuse for any air flow. Or even worse, sitting near someone who is sneezing and coughing and knowing that due to poor air circulation in the cabin you too will be exhibiting the same symptoms in a few days time … perhaps even in time for your journey home :-) Ahhh who says travel isn’t filled with excitement and intrigue!?!

Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics.

Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics.

I suspect CFD will play a prominent role in their design studies. One of my esteemed colleagues, Dr. Andy Manning, recently made a presentation on cabin comfort and how 3D simulation can help engineers create better designs. The presentation aptly named Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Cabin Comfort using CFD  is brilliant and features detailed studies on thermal comfort in passenger cabins and how conditions can be improved. Or if 1D system simulation is more your scene, then please check out the whitepaper titled Computer Simulation of an Aircraft Environmental Control System. The whitepaper features the use of 1D CFD for simulating the cooling pack as well as the aircraft distribution system and how to use this technology to predict the impact of possible design changes on system performance.

Unfortunately CFD can’t do much about solving legroom or the inevitable lost luggage problems but at least when we start using the new generation of planes/trains/automobiles we’ll all arrive at our destinations a bit more refreshed and hopefully without having witnessed any air rage incidents. And that my friends is a good start.

Until next time,
Nazita

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6 May, 2014

The first time I came to London I was 5 years old. I’m pretty sure my parents dragged me to all the usual touristy places but I only remember disjointed fragments.

Feeding ducks in Hyde Park.

Sitting on the jump seat in a black cab.

Holding on to my dad with one hand and holding on for dear life to my new bestie, a rather large light-brown teddy bear, while standing outside Hamleys. Come to think of it we must have been quite a sight because I remember hordes of people smiling down at me and me proudly beaming my goofy smile back at them.

And strangely enough I remember the streetlights. Unlike the ones back home, these lights were orange and gave the foggy sky a rather eerie glow. When I returned to London in my 20s, I remember smiling to myself upon seeing the streetlights again. Their orange glow brought back a flood of happy childhood memories.

London on a clear summer night. Image courtesy of N Saye. All rights reserved.

London on a clear summer night. Image courtesy of N Saye. All rights reserved.

Alas my beloved orange lights are disappearing from London streets. They are being replaced with new more powerful and energy efficient LED lights.  According to a recent article from LEDs Magazine, by 2016, the city of London plans on upgrading 35,000 streetlights to LED luminaires. This project will cost the city about £11 million and is expected to reduce emissions by 9700 metric tons annually and save the city £1.85 million. While it’ll take the city a few years to pay back the investment, the ROI is clear.

Since LEDs are temperature sensitive, thermal management of LED streetlights can be quite challenging as illustrated in a recent article titled Simulation Enables Optimum LED Street Light Heatsink Design in LEDs Magazine. That’s why BUCK d.o.o., a company specializing in architectural and medical lighting, uses CFD simulation software. While working on a new streetlight design alongside Panasonic Serbia, the team used FloEFD to answer questions such as

  • How much airflow is needed to take the heat away at 55°C ambient temperature from a 140W high-power LED module?
  • In what way can they provide the optimum heat dissipation surface?
  • Where do the hottest air pockets form?

The article answered all of these questions and more. And as icing on the cake, this luminaire design was deemed so “cool” that it won the Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design. To read the article  please follow this link.

As a tech junkie I celebrate new technology. But I can’t help feel a tinge of sadness whenever I see another orange streetlight disappear. You see the light right outside my house was replaced with an LED one without much ceremony a few months ago. While I now feel much safer walking home late at night, I miss laying in bed catching a glimpse of the orange light through my bedroom blinds hoping to remember some long forgotten childhood memory.
Until next time,
Nazita

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15 April, 2014

One of my recent social media feeds hit me like a ton of bricks over the weekend. “Yesterday belongs to the past. Tomorrow is the future. Today is a gift – that’s why it’s called the present” (Bill Keane). I sat there blinking at it for a while letting the thought sink in. You see I recently had discovered that while out walking some 600+ miles around the English countryside over the past couple of years I would stop just long enough to take a picture or two which I’d take home and post online – trying to share my life with my friends and family dotted across the globe. But recently while uploading a video I realized that I wasn’t living in the present – I wasn’t enjoying the moment as it was happening. I was saving the moment and then looking at it after the fact. Being a bit of a dreamer I believed that my head was always in the future… it never occurred to me how much time I spent looking back…

I guess we all do that to some extent … looking back and then thinking about the future.

Fifty years ago, during the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the movers and the shakers predicted what the future held for us:

•    Human habitats on the moon and under water
•    A picture phone where you’d see the person you were calling
•    Computers that did more than crunch numbers and offered recipes or answered questions
•    Robots that talked and moved
•    Jetpacks that allowed us to move around freely

Well some of these have come to pass – Robots that talk and move are now more than just something from SciFi movies but I must admit that while Asimo is cute I still find the more realistic looking ones a bit unnerving (just watch these two and you catch my drift). On a more down to earth level, I have spent countless hours on my mobile laughing with and looking at my loved ones. I’ve also been known to use my tablet and mobile to answer all kinds of questions. Come to think of it can you believe how much processing power now fits in the palm of our hands? Still blows my mind when I think about it because I cut my teeth on the DEC PDP-11 as a young whipper snapper. Yeah… that was the height of technology back in the day :-)

None of these beautiful gadgets would have been possible without advances in technology and most probably thermal simulation and testing – as electronic devices got smaller and smaller, more and more components were packed into a smaller space creating all sorts of thermal challenges for engineers. And without solutions such as FloTHERM, FloTHERM XT, FloEFD and T3Ster we’d have a lot more problems due to heat.

Will we ever have human colonies on the moon or under water and will I ever trade-in my beloved Mini for a jetpack? Who knows! I’ve decided to break the cycle and not constantly look back or look to the future. I live in the now. With all this beautiful technology around us, it’s a good time to be alive, don’t you think?
Until next time,
Nazita

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27 March, 2014

I knew something was up when I was driving home last night. It took me 60 minutes to go 3 miles. In other words, traffic was flowing way slower than normal. I got to the Teddington/Kingston roundabout and noticed that the road going to Teddington had been shut due to emergency roadworks. So most of the traffic that went through Kingston and headed to points north needed to be diverted. In other words: Mayhem! Chaos! Traffic jam!

I doubt you’ve ever been to Kingston so let me describe it for you. Kingston (in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames) is an ancient market town where Saxon kings were crowned and is one of the major metropolitan centers in greater London. Some genius a few years ago decided to turn its main roads into a one-way system. This one-way system is at the heart of the city and you go round and round until you branch off at each major artery to go to points north, south, west and east. And to make matters worse the city is right next to the Thames River and has a pedestrianized zone; hence, you need to use a bridge or a select few roads to get around. In short, the city is a massive network or system consisting of a series of one-way roads connected by roundabouts. Easy enough when there are no accidents or roadworks. But a nightmare if there is ever an accident or more often than not roadworks. So last night, traffic quickly jammed across all branches because of a blockage at one point. This morning traffic was just as bad due to the same problem. If you follow this link  you’ll find a map of the area and a huge yellow arrow where the road is currently closed.

According to Russell, Rys and Mandavilli, roundabouts are the “most effective type of intersection traffic control available today”. That may be true but according to yours truly when you build multiple ones on the back of each other then you run the risk of choking instead of moving traffic. Quite simply, the system grinds to a halt. Not good if you live in Kingston or have the misfortune of going thru Kingston to get to Richmond, Surbiton, Twickenham, Hampton Court, M3 … yeah you get the picture.

While I was sitting in traffic this morning I started thinking about this problem and what systems engineers deal with on a regular basis. If you look at roads as a system or a network, the result of a blockage is an annoyance. My 3-mile, 20 minute commute becomes a 3-mile 1 hour commute. So I listen to the news/music and look into my fellow commuters’ cars (and more often than not wish I hadn’t). In some systems, such as those on airplanes, a blockage in the fuel or hydraulics system can become catastrophic.

1D Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software such as Flowmaster can help systems engineers model and analyze fluid mechanics in complex systems and is used by companies across a wide range of industries to reduce development time and costs of their thermo-fluid systems. If you are interested in learning more about Flowmaster then please feel free to read any of the free whitepapers or watch the on-demand webinars in our library here.  I hope you find them helpful in picking up pointers in designing your systems. As for me, I could cycle to work but today’s forecast is spring showers which in BBC weather-speak means rain so cold and solid (!) that it’ll remove a couple of layers of skin so I think I’ll stay put for the day.

Until next time.
Nazita

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11 March, 2014

I’d like to think of myself as a pretty competent person – throw a problem at me, I’ll find a solution for it. Case in point. Last week I noticed some cracks suddenly appearing in the kitchen walls and ceiling. The kitchen sits directly underneath the bathroom. The cracks looked like they were appearing where the bathtub was located and they felt damp. Doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce this one… the sealant around the bathtub in the shower was failing.

I don’t know about your patch of the woods but finding anyone to fix anything in Surrey is pretty much impossible. All the construction folks are busy fixing the damage wreaked by the recent floods. I could ask a friend but felt rather embarrassed to admit that I had never done this – there was always a guy in my life who attended to such matters … my father, a landlord, or ex-husband. Being an emancipated woman I decided to face this challenge head on. After all, I have mastered the art of dispatching spiders without screaming (well, it’s now more of a whimper but at least my neighbors don’t call to make sure I’m ok), topping the pressure in my tires and even assembling lots and lots of flat-packed furniture on my own without killing myself in the process. Yes, I can… that’s my motto. So like any self-respecting newbie I started my research. After watching a few videos on youtube I headed out to my local DIY store. I hunted the various bits and bobs and reserved last Saturday for my latest adventure.

After breakfast on Saturday morning I put on my “working” clothes and tucked straight in. After a bit of to’ing and fro’ing and a whole lot of chin scratching I managed to seal around the bathtub.  It doesn’t look perfect and I’m sure the next time I’ll do a much better job of it but in the process of doing the task I realized that I needed a master list of things to do when sealing a bathtub … a how to guide. For example, the back of a wet soapy teaspoon is much more effective for smoothing out the sealant than the gadget I bought for £3 ($5). Or fill the bathtub with water and then seal around it. This way the sealant will be at its most expanded state but do not, and I repeat, do not sit down to get a better angle on smoothing out the sealant while standing in the bath tub because you’ll get wet. Yup rookie error but you betcha I won’t make that mistake again.

Now wouldn’t it be nice if someone were to create a series of practical “how to guides” for engineers? Well, search no more because (drum roll), our panel of experts have just published a series of whitepapers to help guide engineers new to the world of thermal simulation (or even not so new but needing a refresher). Please feel free to download and read any of these free whitepapers:

11 Top Tips for Energy-Efficient Data Center Design and Operation… A High-Level ‘How To’ Guide
12 Key Considerations in Enclosure Thermal Design – a High-Level “How to” Guide
10 Tips for Streamlining PCB Thermal Design – a High-Level “How to Guide”
10 Tips for Predicting Component Temperatures – a High-Level “How to Guide” 

Mentor Mechanical solutions apply at every stage. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.

Mentor Mechanical solutions apply at every stage. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.

The titles are all pretty self-explanatory and yes I could have listed them in numerical order but at Mentor Mechanical we advocate an enclosure down to the component-level simulation philosophy and if you really think about it a data center is just a massive enclosure hence the topsy turvy listing. So you see, there is method to my madness … not all the time but most of the time :-)

I really hope you enjoy reading these papers and I’d like to thank our panel of experts who wrote and contributed to these whitepapers – Drs Parry, Bornoff, Clark and Manning as well as Mr Blackmore. Talk about a thermal simulation dream team!
Until next time,

Nazita

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3 January, 2014

Sharon, one of my friends, jokingly (but with a sinister tone in her voice) calls me the List Maker. And it’s true. Somehow making lists and crossing out items makes me feel a bit more in control of my life where the only theme is constant change. On the first day of my Christmas vacation I made a list of everything that I needed to do around the house… stuff that is time-consuming and requires more than one rainy weekend to do (because we all know good weather weekends are for hiking). One of those items was painting the bathroom. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever attempted to do any painting on your own (or decorating as it’s referred to here) but there’s a lot of prep work that needs to be done such as filling in cracks and masking the woodwork. Doing prep work doesn’t require a lot of brain power so my brain was left to wander about the year that was and the year that was coming.

Learning from the school of life. Image courtesy of Microsoft Clipart. All rights reserved.

2013 was a year of learning for me. Some of the lessons helped me grow as a professional, some as an individual but most of them made me realize that even at my age I’m still work in progress.

My top 5 lessons learned:

Flying is magic which is why it’s safe to keep your electronics on when landing in the States but not so safe when landing in Europe
A couple of years ago I wrote a post about how electronic gadgets were the nemesis of avionics. We have all asked the same question. Why do we need to turn off our gadgets during take-off and landing but it’s ok to keep them on while we are flying? No one has really offered a plausible explanation unless you count the one offered by the poor flight attendant on a video clip titled “why can’t you use phones on planes”. The basic premise of the video is that the flight attendant asks people on the plane to put their stuff away in preparation for take-off. A passenger asks why and that starts a flood of questions by other passengers. The questions continue to poke more holes in the flight attendant’s answers until the she loses it and says that no one knows why and that flying is magic. Well, that explains it! I’ve always liked the magic theory but flying back to the UK in mid-December I learned that –

  • It’s safe to keep your electronic devices on at all times while flying and landing in the US; but
  • It’s not safe to keep your electronic devices on when landing in the UK.

Lesson learned – I’m pretty sure that Europe doesn’t subscribe to the “magic” theory … it’s just that their aviation rules haven’t quite synchronized with their American counterparts yet. But sometimes it takes far too long for rules and regulations to catch up with science.

Simple doesn’t mean dumb
No siree… in fact, sometimes, it’s even more elegant than the most complicated ideas. I’m referring to the Moser lamp which is a mini skylight conceived from a plastic bottle, bleach, water, resin and a lot of sunshine.  The Moser lamp has brought light into many homes for little or no cost. Lesson learned – not all good ideas need to be complicated – sometimes all you need is a bit of engineering know-how which is why when the zombie apocalypse happens, I want to hang out with the engineers :-)

CFD can prove or disprove urban myths
There are a lot of viral videos making the rounds… some silly and some that make you go hmm. When it started getting cold here a rather interesting video went viral. The video proclaimed that you can heat a room with 4 tea-lights and two ordinary flower pots. Thanks to the ever increasing cost of heating a home in England, who wouldn’t want to know whether that’s true? After all, you can buy a handful of tea-lights for only a couple of pounds and everyone has got flower pots lurking in the shed. Thankfully one of my colleagues, Robin Bornoff, decided to look at this video with an engineer’s eye. And he wrote a series of great blog posts about heating your room for 8 pence a day (or 13 cents depending on the exchange rate). Considering that I live in a drafty old Victorian I was more than curious to see whether it was possible to do this. If you have come across the video too, then you should read Robin’s series by following this link.  Lesson learned – CFD isn’t just for testing super complicated products. It can even be used to check out urban myths!

CFD can help you with your cooking
Yup. Cooking. It’s been a few years since I’ve had to cook a whole turkey but I couldn’t avoid it this year. On Boxing Day (December 26th) a couple of my American friends who are also here without family came over so we could celebrate Christmas together (we couldn’t actually celebrate on Christmas because trains and buses weren’t running). Anyway, it’s a good thing that I had read Travis Mikjaniec’s blog on how to cook the best turkey well before putting the “beast” in the oven. The two major sins of cooking turkey are: not cooking the bird enough which could make you seriously sick or overcooking it which would mean that your guests would politely have to drown their turkey in copious amounts of gravy to make it semi-edible. Lesson learned – Based on Travis’ findings, I made sure to turn the turkey around a couple of times to allow for the uneven air flow in the oven. I ended up with a very tasty dinner (they even had seconds) and I didn’t even have to drive my friends to the emergency room. Unfortunately I still need to work on the “quantity” portion of the puzzle as I still have so much turkey left over that I’ll be eating turkey well into January and perhaps even February.

I’m not as tall as I think I am
I know, hard to believe. On a good day and when my hair behaves I’m just a nudge under 5’6 (when my hair doesn’t behave I clear 5’8 easy ;-)). On this cold December day when I started to paint the bathroom I realized that my 5’6 frame on a regular-sized ladder is just not tall enough to paint the edges where the ceiling meets the walls. I tried a few tricks but short of buying a very tall ladder and risking an injury I’m not well suited to the task. The realization that I’m too short was a bitter pill to swallow because I’ve painted so many rooms in my day. It seems that even though my previous houses had high ceilings, the ceilings in this house are freakishly high. Once reality set in, I continued to paint the areas that I could and decided to leave the rest to the professionals.  Lesson learned –I need to focus on what I do best and rely on others to deliver the rest. This is especially funny because it’s what I do at work every day so why am I not doing it in my personal life? (facepalm).

I learned a lot of other lessons but I think I’ll stop here because there’s a lot more to learn. I have the privilege of working with some very talented folks both inside and outside Mentor and I truly enjoy learning new things from them. So I wish you all a fantastic 2014 – another year to learn more from one another and to practice what we learned in the years past.

Until next time,
Nazita


13 November, 2013

In this day and age where products come and go in a flash it is a great honor to be involved with something that has successfully passed several major milestones.
Twenty-five years ago, Flomerics opened its doors and FloTHERM moved from being a glimmer in the minds of Drs. Rosten and Thatchell to something real. The team of idealists had very definite thoughts when they sat down to create FloTHERM. They wanted to create something special. And that they did.

Almost a year after setting up the company, the team shipped FloTHERM to its customers. True to the founding fathers’ design, FloTHERM was the first in many areas:

•    the first CFD solution developed specifically for electronics thermal design
•    the first CFD solution that used non-CFD terms such as vents
•    the first CFD solution that could be used by thermal design engineers as opposed to expert analysts

And 24 years on, FloTHERM is still the de facto standard in the industry for electronics cooling simulation.

We started celebrating all things FloTHERM with a team lunch a couple of months ago. During our get-together we heard some great stories about the early days and our product managers shared some tidbits of information about the future. I don’t want to spill any beans but it is safe to say that while many folks would be happy to rest on their laurels, this team is not. Far from it. And I’m really proud to call these guys my colleagues (even though they can be very mischievous and pull my leg from time to time but I’m getting wise to their ways :-)).

The original gang reunited (image courtesy of Mentor Graphics).

After lunch our attention turned to a gorgeous cake (see below) which was baked and decorated by yet another colleague – Natasha. She had spent hours looking at pictures of PCB boards in order to create realistic decorations.  It contained 3 kilos (about 6 pounds) of chocolate and I won’t lie. Each slice was a divine piece of chocolaty goodness. As with all things “technical” the guys at my table started discussing the design of the cake. The discussion moved to Facebook later that day and ended when one person asked about the thermal impedance of the cake. After exchanging a few thoughts another person decided to look into it. I only hope that he is working on answering that question as we live and breathe because it would make for a brilliant blog post.

Now that's a PCB design I can sink my teeth into (image courtesy of Mentor Graphics)

The celebrations kicked off a whole slew of FloTHERM related activities – everything from user meetings around the world to flotherm25.com a site dedicated to celebrating the world of electronics, electronics cooling and of course FloTHERM. The site is full of goodies including videos and blog posts. There is something for everyone… whether you’ve been using FloTHERM from day 1 or you’re a newbie to the world of electronics cooling.  Personally I really enjoyed the snazzy pictures of the founders and the original development team – I tell ya, these guys haven’t aged a day but thankfully they have updated their style … well somewhat updated ;-).

And last but not least, the latest issue of the Engineering Edge includes an electronics related supplement named Electronics Thermal Simulation and Test: Past, Present and Future It really is a fascinating read.

I hope you enjoy visiting the site and reading the supplement as much as I did.

Until next time.
Nazita

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25 October, 2013

You all know how gadget-mad I am, right? Well guess what’s got my senses buzzing today?

A mobile phone that you can build yourself from various components … something akin to a Lego phone and it’s called the Phoneblok.

A Dutch designer, Dave Hakkens, came up with the idea after he wanted to replace a single broken component in his mobile phone. When he was told that he couldn’t just replace the broken bit but had to replace a whole module he thought why? And that simple question quickly led him to think of the concept of a modular phone – a phone where you select the processing power, the size of the camera, the display…

How cool is that?

But (and there is always a big but) there may be a glitch. A lot of issues would have to be dealt with such as cost of manufacturing, the size of the enclosure, the weight of the phone and of course cooling! After all, how would Joe Average know where to put everything? I guess one way of making sure all goes to plan is that the assembly instructions would look something like an IKEA manual and they would include advice for best layout to optimize cooling (because as we all know heat is the nemesis of electronics). This blueprint would ideally be created after a few rounds of CFD simulations to account for the various design permutations. Mind you, this is probably not that big a deal for you folks but the rest of us mortals will definitely need advice if this thing is to go mainstream.

Anyway, if you’d like to read more about Phonebloks then please follow this link.  And Mr. Hakkens if you’re reading my blog post, then feel free to check our library of reference material for optimizing electronics cooling here – I am sure you’ll find lots of helpful material. In the meantime, I’m dreaming of what my future phone might look like.
Until next time,
Nazita

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3 October, 2013

I recently read an article about the Soviet space shuttle program which I found absolutely fascinating. We all know about the rivalry between the Americans and the Russians during the cold war so nothing new there. But what I found fascinating was how the Russians made a series of assumptions about the American space shuttle program based on information gleamed from various sources. And unfortunately, they made a couple of wrong assumptions that ultimately led to the demise of their program. It is a gripping story of engineering, technology and politics in action and if you’d like to read it in its entirety please follow this link.

After I finished reading the article, I found myself deep in thought over what I had just read. How many times do I make assumptions about my projects? This must be what you guys go through on a daily basis. While I don’t have a crystal ball for communications, you have plenty of tools that can help you fill in the proverbial design holes. From CAD to FEA and CFD you have a veritable cornucopia of tools to help you minimize chances of making the wrong design assumptions.  And from the looks of it a large cross section of you use this technology religiously.

Which leads me to this – LifeCycle Insights and Engineering.com are conducting a survey and I would like to invite you to take part in it. The survey aims to understand the frequency and type of simulation used during concept design, detailed design and testing. It takes less than 15 minutes to complete. So would you be kind enough to grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and take part in the survey by clicking here? Ooh and it looks like you’ll get a free copy of the Engineering Manager’s Survival Guide eBook as a thank you for participating! I wonder if it applies to the world of marketing too :-)

Until next time,
Nazita

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