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A Visit Inside CFX Engineering Software
Posted Mon August 26, 2002 @04:32PM
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CFD Review by Nick Wyman

On August 1st I visited CFX Engineering Software in Waterloo, Ontario Canada and was given previews of several upcoming software packages from this tier-1 CFD vendor.

The Waterloo office is home to CFX's software development teams for CFX-TASCflow, CFX-TurboGrid, CFX-Post and the largest portion of the CFX-5 team, in addition to a portion of the sales and support group for North America. There are approximately 60 employees in the office, half of whom are involved in software development.

My visit was hosted by Dr. Jeff Van Doormaal, product development manager for CFX-TurboGrid, CFX's grid generation software tool for turbomachinery applications.

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I met with Rob Broberg, CFX Applications Manager, for a demo of CFX-5 including the new CFX-Pre pre-processing software that is currently under development. CFX-Pre will be released with CFX-5.6 early in 2003 and is a very polished looking pre-processor. CFX-Pre can import grids created in the CFX-Build grid generator, or from a variety of 3rd-party meshers via neutral grid formats. The software is then used to define the boundary conditions, flow properties, etc. needed to run the flow solver.

It is easy to launch the CFX-5 flow solver from CFX-Pre (even distributed parallel runs) and the software has limited scripting to support parametric studies. It is possible to use grid adaptation during the flow solution.

CFX chose a desktop theme for their GUI which is different from any CFD software I've seen before. The interface consists of one large window (similar to a MS Windows desktop background) and all other panels are windows with titlebars, etc. that can be placed anywhere within the background window. This gives the system, and the user, a large amount of flexibility. For instance, if you want another 3D view window, you just open another one - there is no restriction other than available memory, hardware performance, etc.

CFX-Pre uses toolbars extensively and unlike other attempts I've seen, they did a good job creating the icons. The 3D graphics are nice - transparent surfaces can be used to see inside the geometry. It is also possible to pick items from the 3D viewer.

I next spoke with Dr. Michael Raw, VP of CFX product development. Dr. Raw focused on the upcoming release of CFX 5.6 which includes a number of new physical models including Lagrangian Paticle Tracking, radiation and combustion models, additional turbulence models and the new pre-processor.

I next received a demo of CFX-TurboGrid 2.1, CFX's next-generation grid generator for bladed rows, from Dr. Jeff Van Doormaal. The software will be released in the new year.

The approach for CFX-TurboGrid 2.1 is a departure from the current version. Designed to integrate fully with the CFX system of CFD software, CFX-TurboGrid 2.1 features automatic topology generation with save and restore capability, automatic robust parameterization of the meridional space, mesh refinement and smoothing, a contemporary interactive GUI with look and feel similar to that of CFX-Post and CFX-Pre of CFX-5, hex element mesh generation for bladed rows, interactive definition of leading and trailing edges as well as the ability to export meshes to either CFX-5 or CFX-TASCflow and to export geometry to an ICEM CFD file.

I would like to thank my hosts at CFX for allowing me to visit their offices and for allowing me to share a look inside a commercial CFD vendor.

CFX Building
CFX office of AEA Technology in Waterloo, Ontario Canada.

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