Posts Tagged ‘CFD’

20 October, 2015

October 21st 2015 is finally here. Yup, the day Marty McFly used a time machine to visit the future… a world full of cool tech. Someone with a lot more time than me recently put together a list of things that have come true – among them the hoverboard but the example the writer uses is not the coolest one out there (in my opinion). Check out this one by the good folks at Lexus. Ok I know it’s not a “true” hoverboard but it’s a giant step towards it. And being a sappy soul I just love this statement “the difficult takes time, the impossible just takes a little longer”.

It’s difficult to tell whether Hollywood takes inspiration from science or whether scientists are inspired by what they see on the big (and the little) screen. Maybe it’s a symbiotic relationship as in the case of The Martian – Ridley Scott consulted with NASA at great length while producing his latest blockbuster. Or maybe they all get inspiration by looking at the catalog of patents that are granted each year. Over the years inventors have imagined and patented a wide range of goodies. Some have been more successful. But some are wildly amusing. I recently watched a video about a “safety car”.  Judging by the spiffy outfits and the rad music I’d say it was from the late 60s. The chest cushion and the catcher bar were especially interesting and thankfully not very popular – I say thankfully because I walked away from a head-on car crash in the 90s where the airbag was deployed rather forcefully and I’m not sure how I would have fared had I been in the same accident with that cushion slamming into my chest*.

Unlike that chap’s outfit, imagining wild and crazy things hasn’t gone out of fashion. The British Rail patented a passenger craft of sorts for interplanetary travel in the 80’s. Although if I may be so bold as to advise the rail companies that we, the residents of this small island, would prefer that they focus their energies on delivering us to our destinations safely and on time on this planet before expanding their territories. If you haven’t been lucky enough to experience it first hand, rail travel here is more often than not delayed due to signal failures, leaves on tracks and freakish weather phenomena such as rain. So I can just imagine hearing this announcement in an overcrowded space port … the 17:05 to Jupiter stopping at the Moon, Mars and Titan has been cancelled due to cosmic dust… 😀

Joking aside, human imagination is only limited by what we allow ourselves to dream. Someone 30+ years ago dreamed of all those gadgets in the movie. Someone with a bit of money thought hey technology has come far let’s see if we can make the hoverboard happen. An engineer with a bit of imagination said I think I can figure out how…

My colleague Sergio Antioquia, who is one of our awesome support engineers, is a fellow sci-fi fan and a pretty dab hand at using FloEFD which is a CAD-embedded CFD software. Like any self-respecting sci-fi fan, he tends to use models from his favorite movies when he wants to test the limits of the software. And in honor of October 21st 2015 he chose the hoverboard:

A crash test dummy taking the hoverboard for a spin. Image courtesy of Sergio Antioquia. All rights reserved.

I must admit that it would be great to see an honest to goodness hoverboard in my lifetime. But judging from the look on the dummy’s face I think I might pass up on the opportunity to try it 😉

Until next time,

* In case you’re wondering what happened, having arrived in England a few hours earlier I was half-asleep in the front passenger seat. The driver, an American, made a u-turn in the middle of a country road and out of habit stayed on the right side. A few minutes later our VW Polo hit a BMW 5-series at such force that both cars were totaled. The two drivers and I walked away sore but without a scratch. In fact, we continued on (in a cab) to the restaurant and caught up with the rest of our colleagues 2 hours late but alive. Hooray for tech!


26 August, 2015

I remember the first time I saw it. It was summer of 1976. My family and I were on our way home from a nice long vacation. For once I was able to grab the window seat (much to the annoyance of my sisters). After an indeterminable amount of time sitting at the gate the plane pulled back and started taxiing down the runway. All of a sudden the plane came to a stop and the pilot came on the speaker system. He excitedly announced that those of us on the right side of the plane were about to see something rather spectacular.  A few people sitting on the left side unhooked their seat belts and craned over us lucky folks. Looking out the window I spied what he was talking about – a Concorde. We sat there for a couple of minutes while the pilot talked about the plane. I remember being suitably impressed albeit not really comprehending the magnificence of what I’d just seen. I also remember thinking that I want to fly on one of those when I grow up.

Image courtesy of Microsoft clip art. All rights reserved.

The Concorde. Image courtesy of Microsoft clip art. All rights reserved.

Years later I got to board one but at a museum. The Concorde sat proudly in a large hall among a bunch of fighter planes. She stood out like a queen. This time I knew exactly what I was looking at and I couldn’t help feeling sad because I never got a chance to experience “time travel” as a passenger…  What reminded me of this episode from my childhood?  A colleague who knows my affinity for beautifully designed machines sent this clip to me. Flushed with the memory of my first sighting of the plane as a child, I decided to watch the next suggested video to learn more about the Concorde.

After watching the second video I started thinking…

The first successful Concorde flight was in 1969 – the same year we landed on the moon. According to Wikipedia the origins of the Concorde go as far back as the 1950s. A quick search for images from the 50s gave me a feel for what mechanical and aeronautical engineering was like back in the day. No CAD to modify designs, no CFD software producing insightful plots of air flow or engine performance. Just plain old human ingenuity and perseverance.  Considering the tools at their disposal back then I can only conclude that the Concorde is one of the great feats of engineering.

Fast forward to 2015. You have such a vast array of engineering tools at your disposal so my future world is only limited by your imagination. What wonderful machines are you dreaming up now? If you need a bit of inspiration then have a look at how our solutions can help make your dreams a reality for the rest of us.
Until next time,

PS. CFD users don’t get a lot of recognition in the world – mainly because the average joe doesn’t really know what you do. Here at Mentor, we’re hoping to change that, at least a little bit. On September 1st we’re encouraging people to share how and why they use CFD (irrespective of the software) by using the hashtag #iusecfd. This is your chance to show the world that despite the stereotypical image of engineering what you do is way beyond cool. Join us by posting your own thoughts on Twitter and/or retweeting those of others.


10 August, 2015

There’s been a fair amount of chatter about “shift left” recently. If I understand it correctly, it refers to the practice of focusing on quality at the start of a project which would require you to identify and fix problems as they arise through the process.

A recent article I read made me think about this concept and how it may apply to the CAE market. In the article, one of the interviewees said “[shift left] says take the existing tools and try and make them work better together without changing the flow much. We need to rethink how we do design if we are going to help it get faster.”  I agree that trying to use a square peg in a round hole is not very efficient and may very well require use of brute force (which is not in the spirit of this discussion). But asking companies to examine and change their processes is something that is much easier said than done.  Not every company can or will change their processes without a good business reason. If the pain is not big enough what’s the motivating factor to change? So people, much like heat, go through the path of least resistance and reach for step changes which provide some relief and process improvement.

In the CAE market we’ve been talking about “shift left” for a few years – I remember talking about integrating structural analysis and CAD with SolidWorks’ John Hirschtick at a tradeshow in 1995 (or was it ’96?). Anyway, by moving simulation upfront you can identify problems earlier. And yeah you can use existing tools to achieve significant process improvement. But (and it’s a big but) it depends on the tool you’re using!

You can’t take software that was designed 30+ years ago for analysts, keep adding bells and whistles to it to ensure that it can simulate very complex physics and then ask the design engineer to use it. It’s not that design engineers aren’t capable of learning how to use the tool. It’s the complexity of the tool which hinders its adoption during the design process. You can’t spend a week on finding the right mesh when all you’re looking for during the early stages is trends … You want to get it going and get it going fast.

Our family of CFD solutions was built with the speed of the design process in mind. For example, FloTHERM XT is an award-winning CAD-centric electronics cooling simulation solution which can help remove the risks associated with the thermal aspects of the design as early as possible. And because it integrates easily into your existing process (and as a bonus even closes the gap with the EDA design flow), you don’t need a grand upheaval of your design process to benefit from analysis earlier. Let’s take a look at what I mean.

With FloTHERM XT the overall process from model building through to result analysis can be compressed by at least 50%. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.

With FloTHERM XT the overall process from model building through to result analysis can be compressed by at least 50%. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.

Compared with traditional tools, with FloTHERM XT the overall process from model building through to result analysis can be compressed by at least 50% (as shown in the figure). How? Well, FloTHERM XT eliminates the need to clean the CAD geometry or to simplify it in order to be able to generate the mesh. It also eliminates the time spent improving the mesh in order to reduce mesh distortion inherent in body-fitted meshes that impact convergence and result quality. I can talk about this stuff until the cows come home but for the sake of brevity I won’t. If you’re intrigued, then please follow this link and take a closer look at it.

FloTHERM XT … making”shift left” easy in the world of electronics cooling.

Until next time,

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11 June, 2015

This past week in England we got dangerously close to experiencing summer. The sun was out, the skies were blue and there were hardly any clouds. Despite the wind being a wee bit chilly, men started wearing shorts and women dusted off their colorful sun dresses. Those of us driving convertible cars drove with the tops down with abandon.  And more importantly the radiators at work were finally turned off.

Airflow simulation in an office. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.

Airflow simulation in an office. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.

And of course when the weather starts to turn we start facing the next big challenge – how to remain cool inside. The cooling challenges in our offices have been sufficiently documented by yours truly already here and here. Thankfully our office is scheduled to undergo a refurbishment and will get an AC system soon (I guess then we’ll start complaining that it’s too cold inside but then again that’s human nature for you).

With the arrival of summer I was reminded that my house gets uncomfortably hot. My 200+ year old brick cottage wasn’t built for energy efficiency.  The ground floor remains cool (regardless of whether it’s summer or winter) but the upstairs gets hot in the summer.  The bricks bake in the sun all day and release the heat at night. Last week I found myself huddled in the sitting room under a blanket after dinner but the bedroom which is directly above it was a whole other story. When I went upstairs to go to bed I couldn’t open windows to create a draft fast enough. In fact by the time I had opened 3 windows in a 10 foot radius I had started to sweat.

Last year I flirted with the idea of buying a window-mounted AC system but I couldn’t find anything that didn’t cost an arm and a leg – window-mounted systems are dime a dozen in the States… in England not so much. As a result, I had a few restless nights trying to get cool enough to sleep by using my trusty old fan. When the temperature got unbearable I even dragged my stuff downstairs and slept on the sofa. So when this little video crossed my social network feed I had to take a look. The basic premise of the video is that with $8 you can create a homemade AC system. The idea is simple enough… one Styrofoam cooler, two vents, one fan, a lot of ice and presto. Nice cold air. It’s not elegant nor will it win any design contests but even the DIY challenged folks like me can do it. I’m sure a few of you smart souls can even further improve the design but I’m seriously tempted to give this a try.

Yes … sometimes a solution doesn’t need to be an all dancing, all singing one. Sometimes it’s the simplest design that will do the job. Something to keep in mind the next time you’re dealing with a particularly difficult design problem. And if you’re looking for inspiration on how to solve some of those hairy flow or cooling problems, do take a look at our library of videos.
Until next time,

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20 May, 2015

The other day I saw a great sign in a novelty shop. It featured the tale of a glass of water –

Image courtesy of Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Microsoft. All rights reserved.

The optimist says the glass is half full.
The pessimist says the glass is half empty.
The engineer says the glass is twice the size it needs to be.

The sign made me laugh out loud as whoever made it clearly knew engineers.

Perhaps this pragmatism comes from your no nonsense nature. When looking at a problem, you look at finding the optimal solution. And more often than not the perfectionist in you wants to work on it until it is perfect. To make something perfect means you need time. Lots of time to tinker…. a bit here, a nudge there.  If we had all the time in the world then tinkering is just fine. But in real life we have deadlines and market pressures which require us all to get on with it. So sometimes good enough is just that … it’s good enough.

And one of those times is during the early stages of the design process when you don’t need to have 100% accuracy in your simulation results… you need something that is good enough. We all know that design is iterative in nature. The faster you can iterate to a final design the better – especially when you have a boss breathing down your neck. So speed and time are of the essence.  What’s a pragmatic person to do? Find a trend in the right direction, explore and tweak the model further and when you’re happy with your design send it off for final verification. Job done!

That’s why our family of CFD simulation tools is designed to be inserted easily and effortlessly into your design process. You can pick up FloEFD, FloTHERM, FloTHERM XT or Flowmaster as soon as you have a basic concept. And because it’s easy to set up problems for analysis and fast to solve them you can quickly see trends emerging and get on with the business of developing a final design fit for purpose.  Don’t get me wrong. Just because you can use these solutions early it doesn’t mean that you can’t use them throughout the process and into final verification. Because you most certainly can and you don’t have to take my word for it – just take a look at our extensive range of customer success stories.  What I’m trying to say is that sometimes you can achieve more in the long run by using the “good enough” principle.
Until next time,

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20 February, 2015

I don’t know about you but I used to break into a sweat when I’d meet someone new because invariably they’d ask the question.

What do you do?

Since I love what I do, I’d always go into a speech about computational fluid dynamics (CFD) until a chance occurrence at a party made me change my behavior a few years ago. At his birthday party, an English friend of mine introduced me to one of his friends who happened to be an American. After the initial pleasantries (you’re from California? I’m from Ohio!), she told me that she had just finished a stint as a project manager at Microsoft and asked me what I did for a living. When I told her that I was also in software and explained what I did she grabbed her husband who had caught some of our conversation and mockingly said “listen to this. C F something or another. I’m pretty sure she’s making this stuff up”. Upon seeing the shock on my face, her husband apologized profusely and ushered her away. After that night I stopped automatically telling people what I did. Whenever somebody would ask I’d say marketing for an engineering software company and leave it at that. When some people hear that magical combination of engineering and software they are happy to move on to a different subject. But sometimes they ask for more. Like last Friday.

Last November while on a business trip I got sick. Nine weeks, 7 doctors, one CAT scan and 4 ultrasounds later, I found myself checked into a hospital being prepped for surgery last Friday. The surgeon stopped by my room to discuss the procedure. When he was done answering my questions, he asked what I do for a living. So I gave him my stock answer, stopped and smiled. The surgeon, a rather kind-looking older gentleman, looked over his glasses (the way fathers do) and said “why do people always respond as if they’re talking to the secret services? What do you do and who do you work for?” He seemed genuinely interested so I let loose and since I like using examples that people can relate to I spoke about how our technology can help minimize infections in operating and hospital rooms. That piqued his interest so I pointed to his mobile and started talking about how manufacturers use our ears as glorified heatsinks. Twenty minutes later as he was leaving the room he had an amused look on his face – I had either fascinated him and he couldn’t wait to tell his financial adviser to add some Mentor stock to his portfolio or he thought I was a raving lunatic making it all up.

Funny enough I get that now. No, not the raving lunatic bit (ok, that too). It’s ok. I don’t mind anymore because despite this technology being around all these years most people whom I meet outside of work have never heard about CFD. But the cars they drive, the planes they ride, the mobiles they use … they’ve all been touched by CFD in one way, shape, form or manner. So I don’t mind describing what it’s all about. More often than not I leave people surprised that a lot of thought has gone into designing whatever product they’re using. And maybe, just maybe, they look up CFD and learn a bit more about the wonderful world of simulation.

CFD. The unknown engineering hero. My one woman crusade to educate the masses continues one person at a time.

Until next time,
PS. In case you’re wondering the procedure went without a hitch. I can hardly wait to get the clearance to start hiking again in a couple of weeks time :-)


18 December, 2014

Santa would not be very pleased with me this year. I’ve been naughty. Yes, through an unfortunate mix of being on the road and getting ill during the past 3 weeks, I haven’t done any Christmas shopping. Nor have I sent out any cards. I keep telling my loved ones that my cards will get there … rather late for this year but being the considerate soul that I am I won’t refer to the year in my note so they could always consider them as rather early for next year. Win-win for both of us, don’t you think?

While I was putting together the list of presents for my loved ones last night my mind started to wander. I started to think about the cool stuff that I’d seen this year. Then it occurred to me that they were all in one shape or another related to electronics.  A one track mind don’t you think? According to the BBC, the average person in the UK is using 10% less electricity than five years ago despite the increase in the number of large TVs, PCs/tablets and smartphones. So thanks to the efforts of lovely people like you who design more energy efficient electronics with the help of CAE and CFD I don’t feel too guilty about wanting even more electronic gadgets in the house. Anyway, since you are fellow electronics enthusiasts (and who may still be looking for ideas as to what to buy for your loved ones or yourself) I thought I should share my list with you. Ok… this is a thinly veiled list of things that I’d love under my Christmas tree but we’ll see what Santa will bring for me… it wouldn’t surprise me at all if I get a lump of coal in my stocking this year instead 😉

Here we go…

Samsung Galaxy Note 4: I remember my first mobile phone. The handset was the same size as a regular phone but it required you to carry an external battery pack the size of a medium sized handbag. Oof! Then we went through this period where the smaller the mobile phone, the cooler the owner. But a funny thing’s happened in the past 5 years or so. Now it’s pretty much a case of how big can you go and still get away with it! It reminds me of Dom Jolly’s skit from a few years ago… (for my friends on the other side of the pond Dom Jolly had a big mobile and he wasn’t afraid to use it … just fast forward about 28 seconds and you’ll see what I mean) :-) Now the new large mobiles are not as big as that but my Samsung SIII does look tiny sitting next to the new gen mobiles. My mobile contract is up for renewal shortly and after seeing a colleague’s Samsung Note 4 in action, I’ve got a serious case of phablet envy. It’s big. It’s bold. It’s beautiful. I’m not sure it’ll fit into my hiking pants pockets but as a woman I tend to carry either a handbag or a backpack at pretty much all times anyway so transporting this bad boy should not an issue.  AND I can use this beauty as my new SatNav as well. No more of that clunky SatNav that gives me instructions too late or throws a wobbly every time I decide to ignore its instruction to randomly “make a u-turn now” in the middle of a motorway.

Cickret bracelet: I can hear what you’re thinking… why is she talking about bling here?  Well, it’s not exactly bling. It’s allegedly a gadget that can keep you connected.  It can even double as your mobile. Now I’m not sure if this is a joke (someone has had fun with CGI) but as a concept I like it – wearable tech that doesn’t intrude on you. And we shouldn’t forget that most of the gadgets we now use didn’t even exist 10 years ago so who’s to say we shouldn’t dream… if anything we should dream big. But not Dom Jolly mobile big.

Dell Curved Screen: I’m not a gamer. Never been. Never will be. So I’m not part of the demographic that this product was designed for but I find that I’m increasingly watching movies and programs on my computer at home. So when I saw this beauty I thought it would even look cool sitting in the corner of my sitting room.  Yummy.

Tory Burch Fitbit case: teehee… lulled you into a false sense of security didn’t I? I know this is about gadgets but I’m still a girl so I have an affinity for shiny things. You all know about my relationship with my Fitbit tracker. I mostly wear Fitty when I’m out hiking; however, it really is meant to be worn at all times but it looks rather “industrial” against my regular clothes. A lot of other members of the Fitbit cult must have thought the same thing so I’m glad we finally have an elegant solution – two different gorgeous vessels for Fitbit and in three different finishes. And in case Santa is listening I’m rather partial to the silver bracelet 😉

A footstool: Yes, I’ve completely gone off reservation but you’ll see why if you click on this link There’s also a matching IC coffee table! Pretty cool, huh? The site includes instructions on how to build one but it requires use of power tools and those two words and my name should never be uttered in the same sentence. You’d know why if you saw me use something as simple as a hammer. Anyway, if you have a bit of time and wouldn’t mind making a bit of money, I know someone who’d like to talk with you.

So there you have it. My most coveted electronics related things.

As this will be my last post of the year, I thought I should also wish you and yours the very best. We’ve definitely had the festive mood in the office this year. A handful of us even decorated the Christmas tree on the development floor with our software CDs (some circa 90s!) and topped it all with a giant fan/heatsink. Now that’s what I call a nicely decorated tree. And in case, you’re wondering we didn’t optimize the location of the heatsink ;-P

Now that's what I call a "cool"  Christmas tree. Image courtesy of G. Tang. All rights reserved.

Now that’s what I call a “cool” Christmas tree. Image courtesy of G. Tang. All rights reserved.

Thank you for your support this past year and see you next year.
Until next time,


29 October, 2014

My appreciation of gadgets isn’t anything that should surprise you. I’ve already talked about a few and some have proven more useful than others. For example, my Fitbit One accompanies me on every hike so I can track and then bore my friends with all kinds of useless information while some gadgets such as my waffle iron were bought rather impetuously and get dusted once every blue moon … that is if I can even remember where I’ve stashed them around the house!

Finding a place to store lots of gadgets is not easy. Image courtesy of Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Finding a place to store lots of gadgets is not easy. Image courtesy of Microsoft. All rights reserved.

If I had an infinite budget, I’d buy every new generation of my favorite gadgets. But I don’t. So even though I appreciate a new generation of let’s say a smart phone I can’t justify upgrading it randomly unless it offers significantly more features or functions than my current one.  Recently I was “allowed” to hold a friend’s new mobile for about 5 seconds – he had stood in the queue for hours in order to get it and reluctantly handed over the mobile after I vigorously wiped imaginary dirt from my hands while promising not to drop the phone! Anyway, I quickly tapped a couple of icons and swiped to the left before I returned the mobile to its owner who was getting increasingly agitated thanks to what can only be classified as withdrawal symptoms.

During my brief encounter with said mobile I noticed a few things – it looked slick but suspiciously similar in weight, feel and size to my other friend’s Android-based phone (he was a bit less precious about letting me hold his mobile so I was allowed to tinker away with it for a lot longer than 5 seconds).  Both had large screens populated with various apps and both seemed to have an intuitive UI. What really amazed me is that the new mobile, known for its groundbreaking technology a few years ago, just felt like a me-too mobile.  But despite how I personally felt, the hype around it was massive and plenty of people felt compelled to stand in the queue for hours to get their hands on one.

Technology hype is a funny thing.

Thanks to the power of media (both paid and social) we get bombarded by images/stories of how the technology on offer can enrich our lives.  And hopefully something in there resonates with us the consumer so we’d want to part with our hard-earned cash. The Gartner research group has even created a graph to represent the hype cycle with such fantastic phrases as the “peak of inflated expectations” and the “trough of disillusionment”.  Now who among us doesn’t intuitively understand what the trough of disillusionment may refer to? Half the gadgets lurking in my shed were put there thanks to that sentiment!

While it’s easy to dispatch unloved gadgets to the dark recesses of the shed or the garage, it’s more difficult to throw out an expensive engineering tool which never delivered on the ROI promised.  Some organizations look at hard/fast dollars. Some keep track of time and process savings. No matter how your organization quantifies ROI, I think we can all safely assume that CFD use is not hype.  Its use has been very well documented across small, medium and large organizations – all you have to do is take a look at the wide range of companies that currently use our solutions here.

If you already have a CFD solution that is meeting your needs, fantastic! If however, you’ve got a solution that is kinda, sorta, maybe, meeting your needs then perhaps this is the right time to consider upgrading to a different solution. But before you do, it’s always a good idea to put together a requirements list. And you need to be brutally honest with yourself because the last thing you want is to dispatch yet another tool to the proverbial engineering tool shed. Do you _really_ need all those turbulence models? Do you need a specialist product or a general purpose one? Do you want to work inside your CAD system? If yes then you need to look at a CAD-embedded system and not a CAD integrated system. The two are different beasts – one is completely embedded in CAD and you never leave the CAD environment while the other has automated the transfer of CAD data but still requires you to use two different interfaces. Do you really _need_ to sacrifice speed for accuracy or is it possible to have both?!? Even better yet how long does it take you to prepare a model and analyze it? Throw everything in there… it doesn’t do you any good if you can transfer a model quickly but spend hours fixing the solid model or meshing it. Make sure you compare apples with apples and not apples with donkeys as one of my old colleagues used to say 😀

Right… time to get off my soap box and unpack my latest acquisition. I’m quite excited about it even though it’s not exactly high tech. This gadget cuts vegetables into spirals and should help me prepare healthier meals. We’ll see whether it’ll earn a coveted place in my kitchen cabinet or whether it’ll be dispatched fiercely into the shed. Only time will tell. In the meantime, no zucchini, parsnip or carrot will be safe in my house!
Until next time,


7 October, 2014

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is pretty serious business. Every day it’s used in a wide range of industries around the world to optimize products for some very practical purposes. Cars? Check! Planes? Check. Medical devices, consumer electronics and power generation? Check, check and check.  But sometimes you come across things that make you giggle. And since it’s a grey and gloomy day in England I thought you may like to join me for a giggle too. So let’s go to a special zoo.

A CFD zoo! And yes I know what you’re thinking… this is a rather bizarre zoo but hey don’t rain on my parade … we get enough of rain here as is :-):


A quick Google search turns up a few research projects involving dolphins out there. In 2006, I came across one by the Crimean State Medical University. The group was interested in investigating the mystery of dolphins’ speed.  Research scientist V.V. Pavlov used COSMOSFloWorks™ to simulate the detailed hydrodynamics of the flow around the dorsal fin of the harbor porpoise (read the paper here). He found that the shape of the dolphin’s skin matches the flow conditions around the dorsal fin. Apparently, by complying with flow conditions, the skin has the effect of suppressing instability growth in the boundary layer and reducing turbulence. What is really neat about this research is that this information could possibly aid in the design of compliant walls which might increase speed and reduce fuel consumption of ships and airplanes at some point. Cool!

Why do dolphins live in salt water? Because pepper makes them sneeze. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.


This is a gem from a long time ago too.  The development team was testing complex geometries that can be meshed and analyzed with FloEFD. While the analysis had no real application whatsoever it was a bit of good fun and it had me in stitches for days. All you had to say was “Moo!” to me at work and I’d have tears running down my face. Who says you can’t bring fits of laughter to your colleagues with the help of CFD?

Where do cows go on a night out? To the moo-vies. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved (to the picture, not the bad joke).

Where do cows go on a night out? To the moo-vies. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved (to the picture, not the bad joke).


Not to be outdone by the general purpose CFD team, the electronics cooling development team decided to test the limits of geometric complexity with our FloTHERM XT product line last year. This “cool” fish here is the result! The plot made me giggle not because it’s absurd but because it made me think whether any of our customers were likely to design anything in electronics with a shape as complex as this. Hey… how about a fish-shaped heatsink or enclosure with liquid cooling? No? Oh well, never mind …

What do you call a fish with no eyes? Fsh :-) Joke courtesy of Sean Clark. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.


One of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving, is only weeks away. It’s always been a time of celebration for me and my family. A few years ago my parents absolved themselves of throwing a huge family get together and passed the party baton to the next generation. The girls now split the burden among us. My niece gets the desserts (glutton-free and sugar-free … this is Los Angeles after all).  One sister does the fixin’s (AKA stuffing and veggies) while the other does the fish (there’s always someone who doesn’t like turkey). I make my specialty… yams. And before you question the division of labor, let me just say that I make it from scratch and have to make mass quantities of the stuff as people tend to eat seconds and thirds. It’s always the first leftover to run out.

The star of the show, the turkey, is always cooked by my mom though. Why? Because the next generation has not quite mastered the art of cooking a massive turkey that doesn’t turn into turkey jerky. I used to think that we are all really bad cooks until I read one of my colleague’s blogs last year. He used FloEFD to model and analyze cooking a turkey. I used my newly found knowledge last year for Boxing Day and presto lovely turkey! To read the blog and learn how to cook a succulent turkey this year, please follow this link But you know what? I’m not going to tell my mom that I’ve discovered her secret. After all, who’d make the yams? And we all know, Thanksgiving dinner without yams is like Christmas without presents 😉

Why did they let the turkey join the band? Because he had the drumsticks. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.

Why did they let the turkey join the band? Because he had the drumsticks. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.

And so ends our day at the CFD zoo … with a bit of a giggle and a wee bit peckish (all this talk of Thanksgiving dinner has made me hungry). If you have any interesting or odd things that you’ve analyzed with our software solutions and would like to share them with us then please send them to me at by end of October 2014 and I’ll do a special post. And please include a description … I think we’d all love to hear the background stories (bad jokes are optional). I’ll be happy to attribute them to you but if you want to remain anonymous that’s ok too. Just let me know what you prefer and I’ll take it from there. I really hope you take me up on this offer. I can’t wait to see what kind of fun y’all have had with CFD.
Until next time,

PS. We are hiring a new Product Marketing Manager. It’s a really cool job and the group is managed by a great guy so if you’re interested then please ping me. Here’s the job description (and good luck!).

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 😀

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