Tag Archives: Inventor

Fluff Report: Autodesk Simulation CFD

Fluff is what I call information packaged as news that is not really news. The CAE industry is full of fluff and the handful of trade publications left standing obligingly publish it as fact.

About a week ago Autodesk issued a press release to announce the availability of its “Autodesk Simulation CFD Software” (a product name that could only be born from a committee… but I’ll save that topic for another day).

The press release opens by stating the new software “builds on computational fluid dynamics capabilities that Autodesk gained in the Blue Ridge Numerics acquisition in March 2011.”

OK, that’s cool; they’re talking about the software application previously named CFdesign. Pretty amazing that only 4.5 months after the acquisition they could deliver a new release. I’m thinking these guys must be Rock Stars!

Next there is a mention that Autodesk CFD has some integration with Autodesk Fusion. That sounds really interesting since integrating some 3D direct modelling tools into a CFD environment — or vice versa — could really be useful to several segments of the Engineering community. Unfortunately the press release fails to expand on the claim. I’d love to know how these technologies have been integrated (is it just a launch button in the UI Ribbon or something more substantive?) and, more importantly, what specific new technical capabilities are available and who they will help most.

The next 1/2 of the press release focuses on “A host of new features in Autodesk Simulation CFD help engineers achieve more, faster.” Sweet! Now we’re getting down to business, right?  Sadly the host of new features is a list of 5 capabilities that were added to CFdesign in September 2009 (the CFdesign 2010 Release) and September 2010 (the CFdesign 2011 Release).

Bummer. If Autodesk CFD really has something important the Engineering world needs to know about the fluff makes it tough to see.


Dear COMSOL,

Comsol. If you are like me than you know the name, know it’s a CAE company, but after that things start to get sketchy.

I routinely run across their ads in all the major printed and online outlets. Their business must be growing because they spend a lot of money on promotion. On the Comsol web site the company states it has 200 employees which suggests to me they have $35 – $50 million in annual Sales.

A couple years ago when I was at Blue Ridge Numerics I phoned up one of my peers at Comsol to kick around the idea of collaboration but I was told a message had come from the top to terminate all dialogue because I was a competitor. Seemed kind of paranoid to me but to each his own.

Last week my curiousity got the better of me (again) so I sent an e-mail to the designated conatct at Comsol requesting a 10 minute phone conversation to discuss a few basic questions on dealing with complex CAD geometry and meshing techniques — so far, nothing. I also sent a similar request to one of the Authorized consultants listed on the Comsol web site but they blew me off too. Such is the life of a rookie blogger.

A thermoacoustics simulation of an ear canal simulator with a damped Helmholtz resonator. The model includes thermal conduction and viscous losses and allows for customizing the acoustic response.(Image courtesy of COMSOL Inc)

The Comsol product line is jaw dropping. These guys do it all! Their flagship product is Comsol Multiphysics which appears to provide a ton of openess and flexibility to set up a simulation consisting of just about any combination of physics. They also provide a tantalizing set of add-on simulation modules to tackle all kinds of extreme realities that only an engineer could love: CFD, microfluidics, subsurface flow, chemical reaction, electrodeposition, batteries and fuel cells, plasma, and acoustics just to name a few.

Beyond all the cool physics Comsol also provides a LiveLink module for customers who want to work with a geometric model in Creo, SolidWorks, Inventor, and a few others.

By all accounts Comsol does it all.  I mean these guys talk about doing fluid-structure interaction like it’s just run of the mill, no big deal. We’re talking CAE studs! The alpha male. The cock of the walk. Superman. Michael Jordan (before his first retirement).

Which brings me to the question I’ve wanted answered for several years now… If Comsol is as amazing as it sounds why isn’t everyone using it? Shouldn’t ANSYS be on Red Alert? Why isn’t Autodesk, PTC or one of the other cash-rich, simulation-poor CAD companies dropping some major coin to acquire this treasure trove before it gets too expensive.

At a technical level I would really like to know: 1) is one mesh used for all/most simulations, i.e. the same mesh for CFD, Structural, Acoustics, etc. and 2) what is the workflow process when starting with a prexisitng, complex CAD assembly? My hunch is that the answers to these two will also answer my previous one.

If you know — or think you know — the answer to any of the above, please clue me in. The world needs… heck, I need… a hero. Maybe Comsol is it but they’re not telling.