Rapid CFD for the early conceptual design phase
An important step of the product development is the optimization of the components' physical behavior, which is usually done in a costly iterative process. Besides the modification, simplification, and (re-) meshing of the component's geometry, simulating its behavior can take hours or even days. In the early conceptual design phase, different material properties and shapes need to be tested and compared, in order to optimally design the component. Nonetheless, time consuming simulations limit the realm of possibilities. We have developed a framework for enabling rapid Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) for the early conceptual design phase. In order to achieve this, we combine the computation and visualization of 2D fluid flow in real time with the modification of fluid parameters, boundary conditions and geometry. This allows for the rapid assessment and analysis of different shapes and therefore the optimization of the component. Our framework is completely based on graphic processing units (GPUs), i.e., all computations are performed on the GPU avoiding costly memory transfers between graphic hardware and CPU memory. The computations are performed on a single desktop PC, thus the simulation results can reside in GPU memory and can directly be visualized. B-Spline curves are used for modelling the geometry and the user can interactively modify it by means of inserting and moving control points or applying local smooth deformations, with the corresponding rapid update of the discretization on the GPU. Computing one single time step is performed in fractions of a second, even if the fluid flow is modelled with about one million degrees of freedom. The fast geometric manipulation combined with the direct visualization of quantities like velocity or pressure field allows for an immediate feedback of shape or parameter changes. Although fast simulations do not yet achieve the high precision compared to conventional simulations, their results are suitable for analyzing trends.