I remember when in the 90s the idea that FEM/FEA was "moving to the left" started to go around. It basically meant that the latest generation of FEM/FEA products were easy to use and affordable enough to be run directly by designers, hence moving to the early stages of the design process ("to the left"). Now the concept that designers have access to FEM/FEA reached the mainstream. Alibre offers FEA/FEM tools bundled with its Design Professional version, SolidWorks bundles COSMOSXpress with every version and other CAD vendors offer similar combinations. FEM/FEA has permanently moved to the left.
The advantage of having designers do more analysis is mostly centered on the idea that by verifying their designs with analysis tools before passing them downstream for further development they will weed out the most obvious errors. This will speed up the design loop cycle by reducing the amount of required design changes due to problems found only when performing costly advanced analysis or testing prototypes. One ancillary benefit to this is that, over time, designers develop better intuition and understanding of structural issues further reducing the number of early stage design problems.
So is it CFD’s turn to "move to the left"? I think the answer is a resounding yes. Today’s meshing (FEM) tools for CFD are reasonably user friendly and can certainly be proficiently used by design engineers, and CFD solvers are now capable of providing meaningful results in a decent time frame running on a modern Personal Computer.
This means that designers can access tools that allow them to simulate flow dynamics, heat transfer, cooling and several other conditions before passing their designs downstream. Thanks to this, companies that are first to deploy CFD tools onto their designer’s workstations will reap the benefits of designing better products faster.
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