By Marcus Brown
SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation is an extraordinarily powerful program. Fire tornadoes, cold beers by the grill, supersonic jets or even dragons can be analyzed in Flow Simulation with amazing results. You may have seen some of these examples before but did you know the setup for these kinds of studies is actually really simple? It is as easy as 1-2-3, what is happening, what do you know, and what do you want to know?
First, what is happening in your environment that is relevant to your scenario?
Luckily this isn’t an open ended question because Flow Simulation comes with a wizard to help you get started. This isn’t some annoying tutorial that you end up skipping after going through it once, the wizard is fast and easy to use and helps to make the best use of your computing resources. Turning off anything you aren’t concerned with will give you a faster solution, but you can also enable some very complex capabilities to make sure your solution is accurate.
Second, what do you know?
This usually refers to the temperatures, velocities, or pressures in your model that are causing something cool to happen. You won’t know everything but as long as you enter the most important items you’ll find out the rest later. If you are trying to specify something specific, like a nozzle or a heating coil, just add a boundary condition to each face or body to describe what it is doing. If you need to include something environmental such as wind there is an area to enter that information in the wizard and it will apply to everything that isn’t completely enclosed. Some of these take a bit more effort such as rotating regions, but there are some nice tutorials and guides to help you set those up when needed. Adding a boundary condition is just a right click away!
Third, what do you want to know?
The point of this step is to guide the software towards an accurate answer without wasting time or resources. Create goals for the most important results or values and the solver will make sure those answers are correct before the solution is considered complete. Goals can be things like the “maximum temperature in a volume” if you are predicting beer temperatures or “volume flow rate” if you are trying to calculate flow through a fan or valve. Goal values are also visible during the solution so you can manually stop the solution when the beer reaches undrinkable status and view the results up to that point. The below video gives you a sneak peak at setting up goals.
There are of course more advanced options available to you if your analysis is complicated, but they are available as options to explore rather than complicated barriers getting some amazing results. For a more in-depth demonstration of how to get started be sure to check out this video series to see an example of setting up an analysis from start to finish including visualization of the results to make those amazing fluid flow animations.