Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is increasingly big news in the automotive industry and F1, where it is used by engineers to conduct design simulations and solve problems in a virtual environment, which is much faster, easier and more cost effective than physical testing.
CFD software has come a long way since the 1980s when it was first introduced to collect fluid flow data to aid problem solving. Aerospace & Formula 1 was responsible for bringing wind tunnel technology to the main-stream automotive design industry, which measured fluid flow over real objects.
Today’s sophisticated technology now fully simulates the wind tunnel tests in a virtual environment where it is used to perform complex analysis on various scenarios to assess transonic or turbulent flows, heat transfer, ventilation and aerodynamics of super sports cars at high speeds.
The rich data generated can be used by engineers throughout the car design process to modify and redesign the shape of the car depending on how the flow impacts specific parts and panels of the car, such as spoilers.
There’s no doubt that CFD has not only transformed the area of race-car design but its applications can also be utilised by many other industries that rely on high-powered aerodynamic computation.
So, are there any limitations to this incredible tech?
Until fairly recently, the reviewing and sharing of CFD models had been restricted to those who have access to specific, often expensive, complicated CFD software – not an ideal scenario in today’s fast-moving environment where colleagues, peers, investors and stakeholders expect to see and debate design ideas and implement changes fast.
The challenge, historically, was to find a universally accessible format that could be shared and read by any permissible person. PDF was the sensible choice and, just like CFD technology, this has come a long way in its sophistication and capabilities.
Converting CFD to PDF is now easily possible but PDF3D developers have taken it even further by developing intuitive, one-button technology that can convert not just 2D but 3D models from CFD Post-processors into interactive, animated 3D PDFs that can be viewed from any angle, at any zoom, in as much detail as the recipient needs. The viewer can virtually climb into the model to see how each part has been designed and, with the transient flow animation, can watch how the car responds aerodynamically to flow. And they can do all this with the standard, free Adobe Reader at the click of a button.
3D PDF CFD conversion not only speeds up decision-making and collaboration. It also holds great potential for document storage where the files are much smaller (without any sacrifice of data quality) for archiving.
Find out more about how PDF3D are contributing to the world of CFD in automotive design.