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issue: November 2007 APPLIANCE Magazine

Technology Report
Real-World Design

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Appliance engineers can achieve more-realistic simulation thanks to a new software platform that offers fluid-structure interaction (FSI) technology.

Pictured is part of a multiphysics simulation of the complex fluid-structure interactions that are typical in a wash cycle of a front-loaded washing machine.

As engineers increasingly rely on simulation to create and tweak their designs, they are finding that their software investment is also growing. To help designers eliminate costly investments, Dassault Systèmes of Providence, RI, U.S. has created a new FSI capability that will work with existing software, providing more-realistic simulation while keeping costs to a minimum.

According to Dale Berry, director of technical marketing, the new SIMULIA platform allows customers to utilize the finite-element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tools they already have to solve their joint FSI problems. “Fluid-structure interaction and other multiphysics problems are of great interest to the practicing engineer in the medical and appliance fields,” Berry tells APPLIANCE. “But the problem historically has been that solving FSI problems required companies to invest in new, expensive, and unproven niche software for solving these problems.”

With the new platform, if a customer has, for example, already standardized on Abaqus software for FEA, and Star-CD (from CD-Adapco) for CFD, Berry says they can now solve FSI problems using both products. This technology advancement, he says, is due to two developments.

The first is the company’s development of commercial-grade products for code coupling. “We have also developed our own direct-coupling interface to allow us to hook certain partner products up directly to Abaqus,” he says. The interface will complement existing Abaqus multiphysics capabilities such as coupled structural-acoustic, piezoelectric-mechanical, and electrical-thermal simulation. The platform also supports third-party protocols, including the Mesh-based parallel Code Coupling Interface (MpCCI) from The Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing (SCAI).

The second development Berry credits is industry acceptance that real-world FSI problems can be practically solved within a code-coupling framework. “Just a few years ago, it was generally thought that only special-purpose software solving both CFD and FEA at the same time would be able to solve complex real-life problems,” Berry explains. “This has been shown—in many cases—to be a misconception.”

According to Berry, engineers are only solving part of the problem by using FEA or CFD parts independently and can miss crucial insight into coupled behavior. “With FSI simulation, they can now understand and take advantage of this behavior to make their products better,” he explains. “And the simulations that allow such insight can now be done in a production setting using incumbent, well-known tools.”

Available in the fourth quarter of 2007 as part of Abaqus version 6.7-EF software, the FSI capability will allow customers to solve design problems where the focus is on the structural component as loaded by neighboring fluids. Applications for the software include medical devices and ink-jet printers, as well as “any home appliance that squirts, pumps, moves, drains, injects, or regulates fluids by moving structures,” says Berry. 


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