Wizard idea

3 min read

To provide diversified non-specialists with sophisticated standalone analysis capability, one US software maker has come up with FloWizard.

With the trend in recent years for multi-tasking, design engineers are taking more of the responsibility for more of the process than ever before — from CAD to machining, word processing and spreadsheet operation.

To provide these more diversified non-specialists with sophisticated standalone analysis capability, entry level finite element analysis tools, or ‘stress checkers’, have become more popular.

To assist with this revolution, Fluent has come up with FloWizard, a smart workflow-based ‘wizard’ that magically turns ordinary design engineers into competent computational fluid dynamics (CFD) operators.

Paul Bemis, vice-president of product management at Fluent, recently said: ‘The software is now ready to be marketed more broadly. But for it to be deployed it must be made easy to use, automated so that it makes correct decisions on the user’s behalf, and affordable. For this to happen, the delivery method will change to a “pay per use” basis via the web.’

The highly-automated FloWizard represents perhaps the easiest-to-use CFD tool ever developed. This means that for the first time, engineers without any specialist CFD knowledge can access the benefits of sophisticated CFD analysis at an early stage in the design and development process. basic fluid forces, temperature fields and other flow phenomena can be evaluated on a CAD model at any stage in the development.

FloWizard can be used by design engineers in partnership with in-house CFD experts or external consultants. It can also be used by CFD experts to save time when setting up CFD studies.

The software’s ease-of-use comes from its comprehensive wizard-driven interface, which guides the user through the complete CFD process in everyday engineering language, from CAD import, to problem set-up and solution stages, through to post-processing, visualisation and animation. It even generates an automatic results report.

The development of FloWizard was based on extensive usability tests involving engineers from leading companies in industries as diverse as aerospace, automotive, chemicals and manufacturing.

It is the first CFD tool to include live collaboration via the internet or an internal computer network as standard, enabling engineers at any number of locations to work together to perform and review flow simulations.

Beneath it all is Fluent V6, one of the most popular and powerful CFD tools available today. This means that the FloWizard information is both meaningful and the level of integration means the problem can be passed on to Fluent V6 specialists for more complex simulations or more rigorous analysis.

FloWizard is also fully customisable so that specialised applications can be developed to meet specific company needs. This means that if a company prefers to do CFD or any analysis in a particular way, it can be accommodated in the wizard.

Customised user interfaces can also be developed that make the tool appropriate for occasional or non-specialist use.

The wizard’s automated flow volume extraction, geometry clean-up and healing, and meshing tools make it very straightforward for an engineer to turn a CAD model rapidly into a fluid flow model without requiring extensive data input or manipulation.

Results are readily visualised with path line and plane cut animations and, when combined with an automated HTML solution report generation tool, reduce the time it takes to produce a fully documented CFD analysis from a CAD model even further.

Bemis’s pay-per-use prediction is coming true in FloWizard 2.0, due out soon.

This has a Remote Simulation Facility (known as RSolve) which allows the user to send simulations for processing, via a secure internet link, to Fluent’s own supercomputers. They solve the problem and send back the results; the progress of the simulation can also be checked any time online.

This facility makes FloWizard very affordable because it removes the need for investment in the non-trivial hardware needed to run complex CFD analysis.

FloWizard marks a unique and refreshing change to the way complex analysis software is being deployed. Fluent quite rightly believes that it marks a real starting point in this new deployment process, by providing CFD capability from entry level right through to the very top end of the technology’s reach, ensuring that basic simulations add real value to the design process.

One of the best parts about the FloWizard story is the price. Often when high-end analysis vendors produce lightweight or stripped-down versions of their code, it still requires serious limb surgery to afford it. FloWizard prices start at £4,000 for new users — and this includes the Fluent V6 licence.

Although engineering nirvana as far as CFD is concerned has not yet been reached, FloWizard makes a significant contribution to the journey. But, like all developments that take the effort out of submitting an analysis problem to the computer, the time saved should be applied to the definition of the problem to make sure that a ‘garbage in, garbage out’ situation is avoided and that the new-found CFD capability is working how the user wants.

It probably goes against the grain for the majority of engineers, but for those who are unfamiliar with CFD but who are keen to take up the wealth of opportunities FloWizard offers, just ask for help.