Posts Tagged ‘FloEFD’

16 September, 2014

In my job I need to exercise a fair bit of creativity. Sometimes my ideas are readily picked up. Some require a lot of massaging and some never see the light of day… I used to take criticism of my ideas personally but not since hanging out with engineers. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from you guys is that there’s no such thing as failure – only outcomes. As Thomas Edison famously said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” If a design fails to meet specifications it isn’t a failure. It’s an iteration and provides you with useful information.

Keeping this statement in mind is particularly helpful when you’re setting up models for analysis. One of the most complicated tasks related to CFD is meshing. Some consider it a black art that takes years to master. A mesh needs to be fine enough to provide you with an accurate result but the finer the mesh the longer the solution might take. So experience definitely counts because you’ll need to play with the mesh until you’ve achieved the right balance … a mesh nirvana of sorts. I remember back in the early 00’s meeting an analyst who would spend a couple of months refining the mesh on jet engines he was testing. Iteration after iteration … refining the mesh. And the more time you spend on meshing the longer you spend on analyzing the design (something that would slow down the entire This is a cost you pay for using traditional CFD software. No wonder some design engineers shy away from using CFD but I’ve got news for you.  The new generation of CFD solutions such as FloEFD, feature the latest in technology so you can reach mesh nirvana quickly :-)

Let me introduce you to the Visual Instruments Operations Division at Seiko Epson Corporation in Toyoshina Japan. The group is involved in designing projectors. Projectors are a necessary bit of kit for every conference room. If you’re like me you don’t really notice them until you realize that you have to make a presentation and the projector is missing, it’s not working or the fan inside it whines so loudly that as a presenter you start yelling at the top of your lungs. Not a fun experience for either party in the room!

Cooling airflow verification inside of the whole enclosure. Image courtesy of Seiko Epson Corporation. All rights reserved.

Cooling airflow verification inside of the whole enclosure. Image courtesy of Seiko Epson Corporation. All rights reserved.

Their analyst team started using thermal simulation back in the 90s. And in 2009, the organization adopted FloEFD to help enable design engineers analyze their own designs (as opposed to wait for the analysts) and speed up productivity. I found it interesting to read about their adoption of CFD during the early stages of the design process and how they optimized the design of their projectors while accounting for factors such as heat sources, noise and even humidity. It was fascinating to read that among their requirements for selecting CFD software for use by design engineers was that all members of the team had to be able to use it with ease of meshing being a top criteria. So by using FloEFD, their design engineers can now modify designs as they are developed. Fantastic! To read about Seiko Epson and their experience with upfront CFD please follow this link.

Pretty cool, no?

And as projectors go, the one in our conference room drives me batty. If only someone could figure out how to make all of our laptops work with it without having to revert to black magic and incantations, our meetings would actually start on time :-) Or maybe I’ll go have a chat with the IT group and see if we can get one of these beautiful Seiko Epson projectors… hmmm I feel a plan hatching!

Until next time,

PS. Thought I’d tell you guys about this brilliant initiative by Google and IEEE – The Little Box Challenge and its $1M prize! All you have to do is design a smaller power inverter (they’re looking for a reduction in size of 10x or greater). If anyone can do this, it’s you guys! And if you need a bit of help on the testing side get in touch with us. You’ve got until the end of Sept 2014 to register and it and runs through 2015. I look forward to reading about your efforts and drop me a line if you enter the contest!!! I’ll be cheering for you from the sidelines :-D

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23 July, 2014

I went out to a dinner party this past Saturday. I sat next to an ex-colleague who I now consider among my dearest friends. I met him five jobs ago – a while back we decided that it was kinder to our psyche to talk about jobs as opposed to the number of years. He is a brilliant engineer and has many years of simulation software use under his belt. He leads a team of several junior engineers who work on projects so nowadays he doesn’t get to play with software as much. But a recent project had brought one of the junior engineers to his knees so my friend was only too happy to roll-up his sleeves and get his hands dirty (so to speak). And before you say it, yes, we do talk about other things but invariably at one point or another we end up chatting about all things simulation.

Anyway, he started explaining the problem to me. I won’t go into the details but he was talking about the difficulty in meshing the model. I sat there quietly as he told me about how he fixed the mesh to get the project back on schedule. After about 15 minutes of listening, I couldn’t contain myself anymore so I blurted out why aren’t you using the automatic mesher? Our software can handle that problem without requiring all these steps. I finished that statement and pretty much everyone sitting at the table physically ducked – prepared for the verbal onslaught. You see, mentioning brand names is a no-no because a few of my friends are from the industry and use competing products. So brand name discussions can become rather heated philosophical type discussions similar to the goodness of apple pie and the flag… Thankfully he was in a good mood so he responded with a rather amused giggle and I took that as a cue to change the subject.

The evening progressed and we were several topics removed from our discussion but I still couldn’t shake the thought. Yes this is a competitive market but surely no one can be expected to deal with technology that is too difficult to use. I know meshing is a black art. But it seems that there’s this belief “in order for us to solve complex engineering problems we need difficult to use software otherwise it won’t be good enough” is so ingrained in the collective psyche that it has become a rule. The longer we believe it, the more it weaves itself into the fabric of our belief system and the more we guard it. And once something becomes a belief or habit, it’s very hard to change it… well for me it does.

Simulation results on an LED with FloEFD for Creo.

Simulation results on an LED with FloEFD for Creo created with Virtual Lab.

A few years back we published a whitepaper called the 5 Myths of CFD specifically to address these types of beliefs. During the past six years of invalidating those myths we have discovered a few more! If you’re interested in reading about those newly discovered myths, then I’d like to encourage you to download and read the 10 Myths of Computational Fluid Dynamics  And if you’d like to debunk some of those myths for yourself then give FloEFD on the cloud a try. We call it the Virtual Lab and it lets you try FloEFD for Creo for free (just follow this link for more information).   You don’t need to download anything. All you need is an open mind, your myth busting hat and a desire to see what the excitement about CAD-centric CFD is all about.
Until next time,

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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,

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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,

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25 March, 2013

You all know what a chatterbox I can be when I’m excited about something. So believe you me when I say the past few months have been excruciatingly hard for me. I’ve been sitting on some pretty big news and I’ve been itching to tell the world all about it.  Now that the cat is officially out of the bag, there’s no holding me back…

FloTHERM XT as the enabling technology in the EDA/MDA design flow.

The news I’m referring to is the announcement of our latest new product, FloTHERM XT. We officially announced the product last week but I’m just coming out from under the avalanche of emails and meetings post announcement to have a quick informal chat with you about it. For those of you who haven’t heard the news (and I can’t imagine there being many) FloTHERM XT is the coolest electronics cooling simulation solution to be introduced to the world in a long time. Like its sister product FloTHERM, FloTHERM XT is a specialized product – designed for use by the design engineer and the analyst who wants to optimize cooling of their electronics. What is really neat about FloTHERM XT is that it has also been designed to be used earlier in the design process – from concept through to verification and prototyping. So it brings the EDA and MDA (mechanical design analysis) flows closer so engineers can use the same design data throughout the design flow to create an even better design.

Leveraging the electronics cooling DNA from FloTHERM and the CFD technology from FloEFD, FloTHERM XT can make light work of solving complex electronics cooling problems. It also supports direct interfaces with all major MCAD software as well as Expedition Enterprise EDA software so you can import data when you need it, from where you need it. By bringing the two flows together, FloTHERM XT makes it possible to reduce the number of late-in-process errors. And it lets you quickly validate each design thereby enabling you to do more “what –ifs” to identify the best possible design … faster.

FloTHERM XT can be used for many electronics cooling applications in a wide range of industries.

Now I know I’m biased but I’ve also been in the CAE business for quite some time so it takes a lot to impress me. The first time I saw this product I congratulated the development team for creating such an elegant product. And yes I mean elegant. Because FloTHERM XT is such a radically cool product, we couldn’t just use the written word to describe it. So we created a short 7 minute video that beautifully describes the MDA/EDA design flow. To watch the video, simply follow this link. And if we’ve piqued your interest and you’d like to know more about how FloTHERM XT can improve your design flow then please attend this free online presentation on May 8th.  The presenter Ian Clark is the Product Manager for FloTHERM XT and he has been intimately involved in the design and delivery of this product so he is the best person to tell you more about it.

The electronics cooling simulation market just got hotter. And I like it.

But some people can’t handle the heat so they’ve started some rather silly rumors. So let me dispel them for you. FloTHERM XT does not replace FloTHERM. These two products each have a vibrant product roadmap and will continue to sit beautifully alongside one another in the design process flow because they each satisfy a different need in the electronics cooling simulation market. And anyone who tells you otherwise is telling you a big fat boldfaced lie!

Until next time,

PS. Unlike the electronics cooling simulation market, temperatures in England remain unreasonably low (notice I didn’t say unseasonably… it’s unreasonable that we get snow in the spring especially since we’ve been experiencing winter weather since oh last October?). Brrrrr….

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6 September, 2012

I live in a 3D world –3D simulation that is.  I remember when my work life went from 2D to 3D. I used to sit in a cubicle across from a software developer who specialized in graphics. He was a pesky lad. Whenever he’d get stuck on a particularly difficult piece of code he would throw missiles of all kinds at me – anything from crumpled pieces of paper to rubber bands and paper clips. I don’t know why I was blessed with this treatment but ignoring him would only result in more missiles being launched at me at a more frequent rate so my only option was to throw them back at him. Before you’d know it we’d be in the middle of a war involving a few other cubes. On this day he had been particularly quiet – a bit too quiet. At the end of the day he leaned into my cube, made an exaggerated point at his screen and coolly said “this stuff is in 3D man” in his thickest California surfer dude accent. And that’s how my marketing world went from 2D to glorious 3D images and animations.

All fluid flow problems are 3D so it’s natural that we would like to solve flow problems in 3D as well. But 3D simulation has a cost – depending on the size of the model and its complexity simulation can take a long time (especially if you use a traditional CFD code).

So imagine my surprise when I heard about 1D CFD. I first became aware of 1D CFD when my division acquired a company called Flowmaster. Flowmaster provides 1D software for the simulation of thermo-fluid systems. 1D CFD can be the ideal solution for solving a wide range of system-level problems such as those encountered in liquid or gas systems ie piping networks of any size or complexity. Engineers can quickly try out variations of the system design, see the impact on the entire system and ultimately find a reliable and optimized design.

Having lived in a 3D CFD world for quite a few years, the first thing that popped into my head was which one is better?

The correct answer is depends on your problem. Both 1D and 3D CFD let engineers improve their understanding of fluid flow and engineering designs and lots of companies use both to improve product and system design. But they each have strengths that make them a better fit for solving different types of problems. For designing complex systems 3D CFD is extremely accurate but it can be “computationally expensive” especially if you have a large/complex model.  1D CFD on the other hand offers a faster solution speed; however, it requires a lot of data to characterize the 3D elements of a system accurately.

Rarely do systems or components exist on their own… usually a system consists of a series of components. So wouldn’t it be great if we could harness the power of 3D and use 1D CFD to solve large system problems. Well, that brings us to why we acquired Flowmaster. Thanks to this acquisition, we now provide a tightly coupled general-purpose 3D-1D CFD simulation software solution. With this combination, engineers can characterize the more complex elements of the system in 3D and then insert those models and data into the 1D system-level simulation. Here’s a snapshot of the process. Design engineers run the analysis on components in FloEFD, save the results, and open the saved files containing the needed data in Flowmaster for analysis of the entire system.

Why is this unique? Because this is the first 3D-1D solution that can actually be deployed straight from the box without any customization and translation of data. And that means you can start becoming productive faster and achieve a return on your investment (ROI) faster.  By exchanging  data between the two simulation tools until convergence is reached for both the 1D and the 3D models we get better boundary values and more accurate system behavior. So in this case 3 plus 1 equals to a lot more than 4 – it results in a much better system-level design than ever thought possible without breaking the bank. This combination can be used in many applications involving complex heat transfer or geometry. And quite clearly this new coupled solution has captured the imagination of the engineering community judging by the amount of press it has gotten lately around the world.

So. Which one is better? The answer is they’re each great on their own but together they offer you an even better solution.
Until next time,

PS. I did manage to get Paralympic cycling tickets at the last minute and had the most awe-inspiring 3 hours of my life at the Velodrome (affectionately called the Pringle because of the shape of the building).  6000 of my closest friends and I watched as Team USA won a silver and a bronze and Team GB won a gold and a silver. I of course cheered everyone heartily (much to the delight of the people sitting next to me who decided to join in). To sum up that day, it was magic!

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21 May, 2012

I’m not a fan of soccer (urm I mean football). I’m more of a Rugby gal myself. But on Saturday I along with 100+ fans played sardines in a small  pub and jostled for the best viewing position in front of one of the handful of TVs to watch the European Cup game.  The pub erupted when England scored the winning penalty shot. I had not seen so many grown men scream, dance and cry with joy at the same time. The festive attitude spilled on to the streets, trains, tube and buses across London (and dare I say England?). We had just watched history being made. On that night, Chelsea achieved what many had thought was the impossible.

I like seeing the impossible made possible. I guess it’s because once you see footage of the moon landing, nothing seems out of reach. Obviously others thought the same thing. Looking back at my life I remember smiling with awe as a child when I saw a Concorde plane sitting on a runway at Heathrow as my plane inched by, as I watched footage of the first shuttle take off successfully and as I saw the news coverage of the peace accord between Egypt and Israel. Anything is possible.

And that’s something that the design engineering team at Bronswerk Heat Transfer clearly believes in.

Bronswerk Heat Transfer is very well known for their high-capacity air-cooled coolers that are widely used in the energy industry. The engineering team wanted to solve a rather hairy problem. Fans used inside a gas- or oil-field cooling system are large. They can be up to 33 ft in diameter. Depending on the application you may need a dozen or even hundreds of fans.  Aside from the energy consumption (to run these fans) you also need to worry about the noise pollution impact. Now the fans for these types of applications usually deliver a maximum efficiency of about 50%. So the million dollar question was – can efficiency be increased to 80% with less noise, less energy consumption and reduced operational cost?

The team decided to try a few new concepts and to use CFD to validate the results. The team at Bronswerk have been using the Creo Parametric (formerly Pro/ENGINEER) embedded CFD solution named FloEFD for a few years and trust the results. Mr. Guus Bertels, the Associate Director of Advanced Design and Analysis at Bronswerk had this to say about their use of CFD “over the past few years, we have used both CFD tools and physical measurements to characterize the behavior–particularly the aerodynamics–of large air-cooled cooling systems. We have learned that concurrent CFD often can produce data that would be impossible to acquire with measurements because of physical constraints, the Heisenberg principle and other factors.”

The amazing Whizz-Wheel. Image courtesy of Bronswerk Heat Transfer.

The team decided that solving the problem was really a system-level effort that involved redesigning the fan blade configuration, the inlet/outlet architecture as well as other parts. The design process was quite comprehensive and you can learn more about it by following this link.  Their new fan called the Whizz-Wheel has broken every record and the cooling system based on it is fast breaking all industry records for energy efficiency, noise reduction and weight savings. “The new Bronswerk cooling solution includes fans and housings that take their technology cues from gas turbines, aircraft wings, and a generous helping of homegrown creativity. The practicality of these creative touches was validated quickly and accurately with CFD. In addition to their purely quantitative output, the CFD simulations enabled us to explore bold ideas–without risking project budgets and schedules” said Mr. Bertels. Now that sounds like a perfect recipe for making the impossible possible and achieving a healthy Return on Investment (ROI) for simulation to boot.
Until next time,

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15 May, 2012

I admire mechanical engineers. I really mean it. If the world ever implodes, then I want to be hanging out with you guys. You know how to build and fix things. I on the other hand can probably contribute to the betterment of future society by picking berries (so long as I don’t have to deal with any creepy crawlies) or by spreading good cheer – I can’t help it I’ve got a sunny disposition (that is after 9 AM). Yup, that’s about as helpful as I’ll be in say a zombie apocalypse.

Anyway, I’ve learned a lot from you guys. So I thought it would be fun to talk about that today. The top 10 things I learned from y’all.

10.  Anything and everything mechanical is fascinating. By now you know that I drive a convertible. On the few days of the year when the weather is nice enough to drive with the car top down in England, I usually get an audience when it’s time to put the top up or down. The guys marvel at the mechanics of the roof rising at the touch of a button and talk about all the systems moving the roof. I admit in the past I never paid much attention to such things. I just took them for granted until the day they didn’t work. Now, thanks to you I am more curious. I look at all things electronic and wonder if FloTHERM was used at some point to ensure effective cooling.

9.  Choose your words carefully. You are very precise with your language. It took me a while to learn this but I finally realized that I needed to pick my words carefully in order to communicate effectively with you. Case in point. I usually ask for extra ice in my coke glass whenever I order a drink – it’s an American habit that is hard to break in the land of little or no ice cubes. I also always wrap my glass in a napkin. After the first month or so of tagging along with the guys to lunch, one of them asked me why I always wrap-up my glass. I said “the glass sweats and becomes slippery so this way I’m not likely to drop the glass”. After considering my answer for a moment, the engineer said I think the word you’re looking for is condensation. And the whole table started discussing this at length. At that moment I realized that I needed to pick my words more carefully. Months later, we were working on a presentation for a press tour. One slide just kept getting flagged by the review team as being wrong. After asking a series of questions I realized that the problem wasn’t with the whole slide but with just one word – I think the problematic word was “cause” so we changed it to “contribute” and all was fine. Someone complained that the team was being pedantic but I knew that they weren’t trying to be difficult. They were just being factually accurate. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that.

8.  When taking an engineer out on a sales call, be prepared to have them tell the truth –warts and all. In sales the golden rule is to never say no. If someone asks you about some functionality which your software doesn’t have, you just keep asking questions to find out whether that feature is important to the sale or whether it is a “nice to have”. Engineers on the other hand don’t have any problems with saying no.  I think that’s probably why engineers feel comfortable buying stuff from other engineers. It’s because they know they’re getting a straight answer.

7.  Engineers test you. When engineers meet you, they always ask you a question to gauge your technical level. They’re not being difficult … they are just trying to see where you fit on the technical spectrum so they’d know how to answer you. I learned this the hard way because I now know enough about things to be dangerous. So now whenever I meet an engineer I always start the conversation with “I am not an engineer”. In response I usually get a smile and detailed explanations that even I can understand. We both walk away happy having communicated effectively.

6.  There is always room for improvement. By nature engineers like to tinker with things because there is always room for improvement. Sometimes I feel like a 5 year-old kid who keeps repeating “are we there yet?” when working on a presentation or a brochure. So I have learned to be patient because invariably the end product is always better.

5.  My definition of a cool picture is different than yours.  Another thing that I admire about engineers is that you are practical and “smoke and mirrors” don’t really hold much value for you. When you look at simulation results, you are perfectly happy looking at the basic plot lines and charts. I on the other hand need to communicate with managers who like pretty pictures and colors. So my definition of a cool picture is probably way different than yours. That’s why some of the guys in our building run the other way when they see me trolling the hallways looking for a volunteer to do a couple of screen grabs. But the handful who still brave the elements do turn out some brilliant images (yeah, you know who you are and to you I am eternally grateful).

4.  Engineers are nice people. Just so that we are clear, when I say “nice” I am using the American definition which is “pleasant, agreeable, and delightful”. By nature most engineers are introverts so as an extrovert it would be really easy to just roll on by. But I tell you, as a group, engineers are the nicest bunch of folks I have ever met. That’s why whenever I meet one I make sure to get to know them well. And in this world, you can never have enough nice people around you.

3.  Physical testing is expensive. I’ve been in the simulation market for more years than I dare to admit out loud. However, I am still astounded at how much companies spend on physical testing. I heard that Bentley crash tests hundreds of cars every year. Gulp. That is a lot of money (not to mention lovely cars being destroyed) in the name of safety. But then again, if I ever could afford to buy one of those bad boys, I’d want to know that I’d be safe.

2.  Not doing physical tests can be even more expensive. Funny… you didn’t expect me a simulation-junkie to say this but it’s true. Sometimes you do need to do physical tests. For example, a new customer decided to invest in our T3Ster product for thermal characterization testing because their largest customer told them that their product specs were not worth the paper they were printed on. Ouch! It’s a good thing their customer told them _before_ they decided to take their business elsewhere.

1.  Simulation is meaningful. I remember the very first whitepaper I ever read on the topic of simulation. The subject was about meshing and it was during an interview. I read the opening paragraph a couple of times before admitting defeat. At that point, the CEO of the company (who also happened to be a respected engineering professor) gave me a quick lecture on what it all meant and before I knew it I was a part of this fascinating world. Since then I’ve learned a lot about engineering. I also know that some still believe that simulation is hocus pocus. But I am a believer especially when I hear from experienced engineers who say that simulation gives them new insight into the performance of their products. One of my favorite engineers, Mr. Guus Bertels with Bronswerk Heat Transfer, has an extensive background in the field of aerodynamics. Mr. Bertels was involved in the design of one of the most beautiful flying machines, the Concord, so you would be right to think that he has seen it all but even he has this to say about simulation: “The information generated by FloEFD especially for the taxing complexity of cooler aerodynamics is far beyond data obtainable through physical measurement and experimentation”.

So thank you engineers everywhere! You have made this a better world for the rest of us and thank you for letting me be a part of your world.

Until next time,

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12 April, 2012

I suddenly find myself needing to buy a car in England. I won’t bore you with why I had to let go of my beloved Audi but instead let me tell you that renting cars in England especially when you don’t drive stick shift is really really expensive.

That is a very pleased blogger sitting in her fave car last year (and so happens her fave color too) :-)

Being a rather sensible person, at first I thought I should get a VW Golf. Firstly you can’t beat German engineering. Secondly, you get awesome MPG (I went thru 2 weeks in December on a single tank of gas with my rented Golf). Lastly, it’s small enough so I can still park it in London but it is roomy enough that if I want to throw my bike in the back, I can just lift the hatch, drop the passenger seats and throw the bike in there. When I mentioned my plans to my best friend I got a back-handed compliment – you are so good, you always pick the sensible option. Hurumph! It’s one thing to call yourself sensible but when others call you that what they really mean is “you are so boring” … it’s a good thing she’s an old friend and can get away with telling me the truth even when I don’t want to hear it.

And so began my odyssey for finding a new ride.

I really liked having a convertible so I wanted to stick with one. There are plenty of choices in England but being the _sensible_ person that I am I quickly discounted all cars but a handful because of resale value and purchase cost … I would love to buy an AC Cobra for example; alas, the bank manager doesn’t see it my way. And in case you’re wondering that is the only car on the face of the planet that’ll get me to learn how to drive a stick shift. But I digress.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Minis and really wanted one when I first moved to England. But the last time around the sensible choice was made and a Golf was bought instead. This time around I’m going for both fun and sensible: it is German in design, it’s small, it’s not very thirsty (depending on the engine picked), and it’ll be a heck of a fun ride when it’s not sitting in city traffic.  Having decided on the Mini, I started doing my research to see which model/ year offered the best ROI when I ran across this article. If you can’t be bothered to read the article, what caused me concern was this:  “Under high operating temperatures an electro-migration can occur at the circuit board installed in the additional water pump. This can lead to a failure of the additional water pump or smoldering and even a fire cannot be excluded.” Oh dear.

According to the Guardian, 235,000 cars worldwide were affected including about 30,000 cars in the UK (one car even allegedly caught fire in the UK). Mini has offered to replace the water pump at no charge and the process takes about an hour. I can’t imagine this exercise has been an inexpensive one for the company. Aside from being a PR nightmare, the recall will cost millions in material and labor (I tried to find a more exact number but unfortunately my handy dandy research department, Google, is not being very helpful).  Anyway, I wonder what went wrong. Was it a manufacturing problem? Was it a design problem that could have been easily fixed thru simulation with FloTHERM or FloEFD? I guess we’ll never know but I wanted to write about this because the fact of the matter is in this day and age product recalls still happen. Even to the big guys. And they are costly. So it’s best to catch design problems before they become a PR nightmare. As for me and my Mini, I’m still going full steam ahead. I’ve got a couple of test drives scheduled for next week and hope to come home with a new (well new to me) car that’s already been retrofitted. I must admit that if I have to deal with London traffic then I’d much rather do it in a fun zippy car… even if I am going only 7 miles per hour.

Until next time,

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14 February, 2012

Back in December I heard something on the radio that made me both sad and happy at the same time. It turns out that the last neon sign in Piccadilly Square in London was to be turned off by the end of the year. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing London at night, Piccadilly Sq is a sight to behold (for a picture click here ) The neon sign in question had been in use since 1987 and is the one belonging to Sanyo (shown prominently in the picture). The 340 square ft neon sign has been replaced with one made up of LEDs. Come to think of it, walking around London this past Christmas, the whole town was draped in LED lights.

I always thought of neon lights as something that was quintessentially American but they were actually invented by a Frenchman in 1910. They first appeared on the American shores in Los Angeles in 1923 in a car dealership and they quickly caught the imagination of a nation. By the 50s neon lights were everywhere and because of their close association with advertising they became known as the light of the American dream. According to the announcement, Sanyo wasn’t too worried about efficiency/inefficiency of neon lights – they just wanted something a bit more modern to showcase their logo for the Olympics.

I’m not sure everyone else would have that priority – most folks worry about efficiency first. So I went looking for something to help me understand the difference between the two. I found a document from 2006 which stated that neon lights were actually more energy efficient. With that said, this is a 6 year old document and as far as I know LEDs have changed by leaps and bounds during this period so I suspect LEDs have not only caught up but surpassed the performance of neon lights (if you know more I’d love to hear from you). And they are becoming more and more popular – you can quickly gauge the importance of LEDs by reviewing the US Department of Energy’s website or just walk around any major metropolitan area around the holidays. However, the LED market is still in its infancy and is having teething pains. According to a presentation made at the Strategies in Light conference last week, Jim Brodrick, the US DOE’s Solid-State Lighting Program Manager, cost is one of the most frequently mentioned impediments to adoption of solid state lighting. He also mentioned that reducing cost while maintaining high quality manufacturing is a key challenge for LED manufacturers.

I agree with Mr. Brodrick. Reducing cost and maintaining high quality is a key challenge met by not only LED manufacturers but all manufacturers of discrete goods. That’s why market leading organizations are adopting software simulation tools such as FloTHERM or FloEFD or thermal characterization testing solutions such as T3Ster (and some combine the two for an even more comprehensive solution) to shorten their design process, create higher quality products and reduce their costs. If you’re interested in learning how software simulation or hardware testing can help you create better and higher quality products with less cost then have a look at our website for free whitepapers and on-demand presentations. I’m sure you’ll find lots of good/helpful advice.

There is a reason why 19 of the top 20 LED companies use our solutions.  So why don’t you come and see our experts at Semitherm in San Jose California (March 18-22) – we’d love to meet you and help you solve those tough problems too.
Until next time,

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