It wasn’t too long ago that simulation was viewed as a complex technology, best left to so-called “experts” or analysts with extensive experience. Product manufacturers, however, are increasingly incorporating simulation into their product development cycles to speed the development of products and get them to market faster.
Digitally simulating product designs speeds development time by reducing the need for expensive physical testing. This being said, the science behind simulation is complex and software used to perform digital simulations on product designs has been viewed by many engineers as too difficult to use and prohibitively expensive.
Autodesk wants to change all that and put simulation tools into the hands of those who stand to benefit the most from its use: design engineers. Autodesk Flow Design, formerly Project Falcon, is a easy-to-use, flow design software that enables designers and engineers to simulate airflow around any object in a virtual wind tunnel. The software makes it easy for users, even those with absolutely no background or experience with simulation, to see and understand airflow behavior around their model within seconds of launching the application.
By simulating in-process designs early in the design cycle, engineers gain valuable insight and can create models with airflow in mind, encouraging more design exploration of concept ideas that can lead to more optimized products.
Traditionally flow simulations have been done much later in the design cycle after the model has been created and fully detailed in the CAD software or conducted through expensive, time-consuming physical testing after prototypes of the product are built. Changes required after physical testing are not only expensive but can derail product release schedules.
Users in multiple industries stand to benefit
This type of early conceptual understanding–through early flow simulation–has the potential to benefit many different types of users. Vehicle designers can use it to understand the aerodynamic impact of design changes; architectural designers can use simulation to determine how a cluster of new buildings might effect wind levels in the pedestrian areas connecting them; and consumer product designers can use simulation to see how their conceptual designs behave in the wind.
“Flow Design is a terrific addition to the designer’s toolkit,” said Luke Mihelcic, marketing manager at Autodesk. “By giving designers a way to visualize airflow at the conceptual level of the design, Flow Design aims to foster more creativity and innovation.”
Getting started is easy
A real benefit of the software is that it’s extremely “geometry tolerant” and can accept model types ranging from concept designs to fully detailed models, with little or no preparation needed. That’s a huge departure from traditional simulation software that requires users to set up boundary conditions prior to doing the simulations.
Users of Autodesk Inventor 3D CAD software and Autodesk Revit Building Information Modeling (BIM) software can use Flow Design directly within their design while other 3D CAD users can leverage a standalone Flow Design interface.
Once the model has been entered, Flow Design provides real-time feedback, enabling users to visualize wind interacting with their designs. They can instantly see how the airflow circulates and recirculates, visualizing where wakes will form, and where there will be high and low pressure regions.