Last year, FieldView jumped into Altair’s bed, and now got a baby named AcuFieldView in the latest AcuSolve package. Recently, FLOW 3D was married happily with EnSight (CEI), and will get EnSight 10 integrated into FLOW 3D in a few months (this fall).
It seems most CFD software vendors now are aware of the importance of post-processing capabilities. Competition for buyers will be extended from brains to eyeballs. If your CFD software can only draw black and white lines, or can only generate mediocre animations, it seems it will prepare to die, soon.
The trend of getting better visualization and post-processing tools is surely driven by the demands from the customer, although “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
So, if you ask so many called CFDers (CFD engineers, CFD specialist, CFD analysts, CAE engineers…) why they think visualization is so important. You probably will get all sorts of answers. But probably, the top 3 answers would be:
#1. “My boss can only read colourful things.”
The sad truth is that most of the times the supervisors of the CFDers don’t know CFD (why should they know?). Images and videos are the only format they are expecting. Yes (or No) is another term they can understand. Unless you can convert the unit of Pascal to Dollar, they will have no interest in numbers or plots.
Unfortunately, current CFD software does not have the built-in capability to convert Pascal to Dollar. This job need real CFD analysts (not CFD guerrillas mentioned below) to read through the numbers, and draw some black-and-white lines to transform boring numbers to physics (performance) then possibly to costs.
When the colorful things are the only things you can produce from CFD software, what else can your boss expect?
#2. “What? You don’t know the purpose of CFD simulation is just to create colorful pictures and dazzling videos? even my boss knows it.”
CFD or CAE simulation is not new for managers. Almost all engineering managers in almost all sectors now can talk about simulation, can talk about CAE, can talk about PLM. As a result, more and more designers join the CAE Jihad (as mentioned in a previous post).
So, most of CFDers are actually CFD guerrillas. Today, they are working on a oil/water/air separation project; next day they will work on car aerodynamics projects. Maybe one week later, they will work on thermal management projects. For them, CFD is just a vending machine: need coke? insert coins; need sandwich? insert coins again.
When you have no time to check the contents in the can, or contents in the sandwich box, you have to assume anything in the can (spit from the vending machine) should be coke; anything in the sandwich box should be delicious sandwich. You just need polish the packaging (your images, videos) and then pass them to your boss (who only read colorful things). Mission completed and you are ready for next CFD target.
#3. “My supervisor told me I need lubricate my dry research with colorful CFD.”
Even in the ivory tower, CFD can still be a fashion, sometimes, even in Mechanical Engineering department.
After spending days and nights in the boring lab (usually with special odors depending on the departments you are in), you probably are lucky enough to get some correlations (often expected; occasionally, unexpected) among some parameters. Instead of going ahead to write your thesis, or a paper, your supervisor may ask you to try some simulations to “support” your findings.
Now you become a CFD guerrilla. You target is clear: to support or match your experiment. Your mission is clear: elegant plot and colorful images for your thesis or paper, and possibly fancy videos for conference presentations. Surely, you will find ways to match your simulation with any data you get in the given timeframe.
Your paper, your thesis, and your presentation now get an excellent facelift. And in your CV, now you can honestly claim yourself as an experienced CFDer.
Nothing wrong, possibly except your CFD simulation. Your system has fluid does not necessarily mean you need CFD.
Not uncommon, a calculator can be more accurate than your CFD software if you know how to calculate. If you don’t know how to calculate, your CFD software cannot help much, and eventually you are only using the visualization capabilities of your CFD software. So, you fully understand why visualization is important for CFD, and you will teach your students using your CFD experience when you become a professor.
I know there are probably some other good answers. If you get one, please post it in the comments box below.
Of course, no one can deny the importance of post-processing and visualization. These tools and capabilities are there to help you dig more information efficiently, e.g., calculating the standard deviation of temperature in a region, extracting vortex core region, locating flow separation. Visualization is serving you as a road map when you exploring your results.
It is equally undeniable that these images or video will be able to help you explain the results to other people. But the main purpose of these tools is for you to explore your results, not just to present your results.