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May 29, 2017

Computational Fluid Dynamics Analysis: A Key Differentiator

[Editor's note: This blog post originally ran in January 2017.]

You’re a company with an air- or water-moving product looking for a contract manufacturer (CM) to help take your design from prototype to market. There are plenty of companies out there willing to help you. But how do you sort through them? What differentiators should you look for?

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Previous blog posts touched on the value of working with a CM that has a UL-certified lab or one with an exemplary record of quality control or service. You can add to that list CMs that make use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis.

Breaking It Down

Here’s how one of our engineers explained what CFD is and why it’s so valuable. “CFD is a method of breaking down the flow of fluids through a system,” he said. “It works by taking a large complex system and breaking it down into thousands or millions of small and simple systems. The reason why this is important is because fluids are very hard to study by nature. There’s a saying that you can’t observe a system without affecting it in some way. This is especially true for air/water systems. You can’t take measurements on the system without affecting it in some way. Additionally, you may not be able to take measurements in all areas of the system.”

CFD analyzes a number of fluid properties including pressure, velocity, temperature and vorticity. The software creates a “window” into the system where engineers can collect and review a large amount of data without affecting the system. Companies using CFD are able to test new concepts and review the impact of changes to existing designs. There’s no other way to work with fluids that will allow for quick testing and accurate results without prototyping and measuring a physical sample.

For example, pitot tubes are typically used to measure pressures in a system, but they impact the flow of fluid within the system. Instead, CFD analysis uses calculations and modeling to determine the flow of fluids in the system. The flow isn’t effected and the measurements are more accurate.

I asked our engineer to show me how CFD works:

 

What does this mean for the customer?

Prototype costs are falling, and that’s great for strength testing. But, as previously mentioned, flow testing is much more exact using CFD. And CFD analysis provides a high quantity of information useful for product development.

CFD ensures that the product or part designs will work in the application, and that the result will meet expectations. Naturally, the results coming out of the model will only be as good as the information that goes in. If the customer doesn’t give enough project information, the results won’t be accurate. However, all other things being equal, if you’re looking for a reliable quote on your part or product, look for a CM that sets itself apart by providing CFD analysis.

 

Click on the link below to download our White Paper about the essential questions to ask when looking for a manufacturing partner: 

FREE Guide: 7 Essential Questions to Ask When Choosing a  Strategic Manufacturing Partner

Filed Under: Contract Manufacturing, CFD Analysis, Featured