CFD Meshing Software Makes For Economical And Fast Fluid Dynamics Solutions
An aeronautical engineer, my father had a very interesting job that was nonetheless a little hard to explain to others. The simplest thing, he told me once, was to say that he designed airplanes, although that was in fact something of an overstatement of his job. In fact, he focused mainly on very specific portions of the airplanes his firm worked with, a team of as many as twenty engineers often spending months tweaking the shape of a single rudder or panel on a wing. It turns out that analyzing air flows over complex shapes such as those of airplanes is a very difficult task, one the practice of which has been greatly improved in recent years by computer-assisted methods such as CFD meshing software.
An older-fashioned way to figure out the best shape for a proposed external part on an airplane, my father said, had been to put mock-ups of these designs in physical wind tunnels, so that the change in forces could be studied. This was an expensive and slow process, however, as every little change would require that a new physical part be fashioned, and running the giant wind tunnels themselves was very costly.
Providing low-cost access to the techniques of computational fluid dynamics, CFD meshing software and other computer-hosted products made this process much easier and more economical. Although the problems of CFD remain incredibly complex and difficult to solve, such software packages allow companies like my father's to leverage the power and low cost of modern personal computers to attack these issues virtually. The approximations these software packages produce can be supplemented with wind tunnel and other real-world work where necessary, but they are often good enough for large portions of a project.