As consumer products evolve, so do the heat transfer, heat source, and aerodynamic engineering challenges they bring for their designers. And the same is true for nearly all engineered products.
For example, smartphones and tablets require ever-longer battery life. But at the same time denser electronics packaging and smaller, thinner phones increase the risks for failure, and maybe even fire. The original Samsung Galaxy Note 7’s lithium ion battery, for example, was tightly packaged into the smart phone’s casing. The battery was squeezed at its upper right corner, making easier for its positive and negative electrodes to potentially touch and heat up.
These types of failures—coupled with continued consumer demand for smaller, faster, thinner electronics–triggers stricter regulations not only in the product development but also in testing and in certification standards.
And that’s a good thing. Smart watches shouldn’t burn their wearer’s skin, smartphones that can be used underwater need to be watertight. The analysis solutions product designers call upon to make sure these things won’t happen are vital to engineers. But they need to be at the ready early in the design process.
For another example, from the world of the perhaps more mundane: the vacum cleaner. They’re usually tested against their competing rivals in terms of suction. That’s the reason cyclone-based vacuums are all the rage. They don’t lose performance over time.
To get to that best-possible model: the vacuum with the greatest amount of suction or the smartphone with a small, yet safe, profile, engineers need to optimize geometry for heat-transfer and for fluid flow, including airflow.
Vacuum-cleaner suction is, of course, a function of airflow.
Heat transfer is a particular challenge during product design because, while an engineer has many ways to improve heat transfer to keep devices operating within safe temperatures, usually all of them come with side effects.
Choices to improve heat transfer include using a more expensive material with better heat-conducting properties; applying a forced cooling flow rather than natural convection; or using a better cooling fluid, such as water, rather than air.
But side effects of those choices include: additional expense, increased weight, greater power consumption, and impracticality.
Understanding how to make choices and trade offs for best performance without unwanted side effects is a challenge in and of itself.
Aerodynamics is a broad word that applies to rockets and airplanes down to the aerodynamic design of the propeller blades of a household fan, the ducts of an air conditioner, or the cooling fan of a computer.
Being aerodynamic means part geometry is streamlined for the airflow to pass through or over it without high losses while still providing performance for cooling, suction, or pressure.
The Best Design
Engineers who use Solid Edge from Siemens will now benefit through the CAD tool’s integration with Flo EFD from Mentor Graphics. The pairing allows engineers to immediately prepare and analyze their CAD model for computational fluid dynamics issues without the need to translate data or prepare a fluid body model.
The analysis allows engineers to determine if their model contains turbulence and vortices or other fluid-flow issues that worsen performance such as the place heat from the motor emanates from affects a temperature-sensitive electronic component and could cause the component’s early failure.
With the Flo EFD tool, the usual invisible air or liquid flow can be made visible, letting engineers see temperature distribution, flow velocities and direction and other parameters, which are depicted together and in every area of the product. This depiction points out the problematic areas where changes can improve the performance of the product.