Are there any free CFD softwares?

29 July, 2020

Whether you’re only just venturing into thermal simulation or simply looking to experiment with computational fluid dynamics (CFD), you’re no doubt on the lookout for easy-to-use and free simulation softwares to trial and test. 

While some free CFD softwares may provide you with an advanced level of thermal simulation, there’s many considerations that need to be taken into account when selecting the right CFD software for your project. Many of the free software available for thermal simulation has no GUI, which isn’t suitable for beginners. If you’re working on a budget, safety, accuracy and reliability should all be additional key considerations for anyone starting out in thermal design.

For most projects, free CFD softwares aren’t actually the best bet, forgoing reliability and the very best features in exchange for a low-price tag. 

If you’re a beginner to the thermal engineering scene and want the best results, you need a simulation tool that offers the best features — without breaking the bank.

Best features for a thermal simulation platform

Modern user interface 

For engineers embarking on their first thermal simulation project, the most important thing is that their CFD platform is easy to use. Unfortunately, free CFD softwares don’t come with a standardized user interface — with most being open source and built on a budget. As such, new users may find these platforms far harder to use. 

At 6SigmaET, we have emulated the ribbon-based approach used in most modern, Windows-based programs, relying on clear layouts, bold icons and inbuild help materials. This user interface was designed from the ground up to be as intuitive as possible, guiding users through everything – from the model build to the analyzing of results. These design considerations make the process of thermal modelling far easier and more efficient for both novices and experts alike. 


Intelligent objects

As a beginner, it’s important you have easy access to all the key components for your thermal simulation project. That’s why, at 6SigmaET, we provide intelligent modelling objects that any thermal engineer might regularly need to use. 

However, it’s not enough to have access to these items — you also need to know how the components will perform in real life. If you can clearly see how each of these components would behave with one another in the real world, you can accurately anticipate which objects might overheat.

6SigmaET’s intuitive drag and drop functionality helps thermal engineers to easily add, remove and move items within projects, easily simulating how different component combinations will work — a feature that most free CFD softwares will not provide.

Cloud solving 

Given the complex nature of modern electronics, most thermal simulation software requires a serious amount of processing power. But getting reliable results at speed without compromising accuracy can be difficult. 

By taking advantage of cloud computing, thermal engineers can access far more computational power than they would ever have available ‘locally’ – removing hardware limitations from the equation completely.

However, free cloud CFD softwares cannot guarantee reliability and security in the cloud. Without the option to solve in the cloud, traditional simulation packages will simply be unable to support the current and future needs of thermal engineers.

Automatic grid generation 

One of the key steps of modelling is gridding. However, it can be a very manual and slow process — even with a general purpose CFD tool — especially for anyone new to thermal simulation. Without complete precision, engineers could receive inaccurate results which can cause huge delays for your project. With a free tool that has no GUI, this process can take even longer. 

There’s no way around this using free CFD software, but with solutions like 6SigmsET, users can benefit from automatic grid generation to speed up the process of gridding without losing accuracy. Furthermore, our CFD software automatically checks for collision and modelling errors, allowing you to address problems as they appear.

A high-quality grid can help engineers produce more accurate results and reduce the chance of a solve failing due to divergence. Based on years of expertise, Future Facilities has developed its thermal simulation software with a view to making the tool accessible to both novices and thermal engineering experts alike. 

To trial our CFD software for free, or learn more about how 6SigmaET can benefit your business, get in touch with our team.


Blog written by: Tom Gregory, Product Manager

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