One of the most common applications of SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation, and CFD in general, is in evaluating the cooling of electronic and other heat-generating components.
Anyone who is working in this field knows of the challenges of combining many different types of design tools – typically starting with ECAD (electronic design software), migrating to Mechanical CAD, and then to a CFD package.
Each transfer step between design environments represents an opportunity for a bad translation to happen, for information to be lost, or for errors to creep into the process.
Luckily, SOLIDWORKS is already well ahead of the game in addressing these integration and translation problems, with tools developed over many years to streamline this design process. These include CircuitWorks, which is an ECAD>MCAD translator, and SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation, which is a CFD thermal and flow analysis tool built right into the SOLIDWORKS MCAD interface.
This integration gets even tighter in SOLIDWORKS 2014, to be released in October, with new features that allow you to export SOLIDWORKS geometry to the CircuitWorks database from the assembly, and adjustments to usability and the interface. There’s one feature that I know is going to save me a ton of time.
Thermal properties that describe the performance of a component can now be loaded into the CircuitWorks database. This means they’ll permanently live with the file, and can be automatically utilized in Flow Simulation without having to re-enter the information.
Here’s an example. Let’s say I want to incorporate an Intel i7 processor into a design. I can go to Intel’s datasheet and read off key information – such as the maximum power I should be designing to.
I can then enter that information directly into the component in the CircuitWorks library. It’ll now be there every time that particular component is used.
When it becomes time to run a Flow analysis on the assembly, with a single click, I can import all thermal information from the CircuitWorks database for the entire assembly.
If I go to Flow Simulation>Tools>Import Data From Model, I can pull in material properties, heat sources, PCB layer definitions (with the Electronics Module) in a single click. Check out the before and after of the Flow Simulation tree below.
In this case, the components on this board are all fully populated with the key information in CircuitWorks, and I’ve added 186 heat sources in a single click, along with any defined material definitions, and my PCB layer properties. Here’s that i7 package:
For anyone that’s experienced the tedium of working through PCB layouts item by item, applying materials and heat loads, this is an amazing leap forward, and something I’m very much looking forward to in SOLIDWORKS 2014.
And once you’ve got that analysis completed, in SOLIDWORKS 2014 you can now share multiple result types in an eDrawings file, to make it that much easier to communicate key information to your colleagues, customers, management, and anyone else who needs to view and understand your CFD results.