Case Studies

Case Study: PacMar Technologies Leverages Cutting-Edge Simulation Tools for the Art of Possible

February 22, 2024

Business Challenges

Products designed and prototypes taken to the sea must be ready to overcome the challenges and dynamics of a harsh, deep ocean environment.

However, building physical prototypes to validate design iterations is cost-prohibitive and limits innovation.

Products Used

Siemens Simcenter STAR-CCM+


PacMar Technologies utilizes advanced simulation tools in the product development cycle to validate product designs.

By leveraging cutting-edge Siemens CFD Simulation tools provided by Applied CAx, they have created a virtual sea state for simulation based on real-world wave data.

They are able to test and optimize dozens of design iterations before progressing to constructing a physical prototype and testing in real-world conditions.

Developing the Next Generation of Aquatic Vessels: About PacMar Technologies

PacMar Technologies is a small business and global leader in developing the most innovative solutions to complex engineering problems in the defense and maritime industries. Founded and headquartered in Hawaii, PacMar Technologies has a long history in naval architecture design and analysis, with offices in Rhode Island, Maine, Virginia, Michigan, and Kansas.

As a company, PacMar Technologies prides itself on tackling tough challenges and being able to take an idea from a napkin sketch to a detailed design and simulation, then finally constructing and delivering a fully functional physical prototype that goes to the sea for in-water testing. Their Honolulu location offers an optimal setting for real-world validation as the unique rough waters and challenging sea state make for a dynamic testing ground; designs that perform here can perform anywhere.


pacmar boat harbor hero


Designing for the Rigors of the Ocean

The ocean is an unforgiving environment, and the main challenge of maritime design is the sea itself. Watercraft designed and prototypes taken to the sea must be ready for those challenges and be able to overcome the dynamics of a harsh, deep ocean environment. Surface vessels, underwater vehicles, and amphibious vehicles have to deal with waves, the surf zone, currents, and wind, all coming together in an incompressible fluid, whether on the surface or below.

PacMar Technologies’ primary customer is the Department of Defense, which has a great focus on the Indo-Pacific region. Their Hawaii location gives them immediate access to the deep and challenging waters of the Pacific. It also makes an ideal real-world testing location thanks to the surf zone and its difficult sea states.


PacMar Technologies Amphibious vehicle prototype

Advanced Simulation Reduces Risks in both Costs and Time

Regarding themselves as a high-risk, high-reward company that can move forward and design craft that other companies wouldn’t risk attempting, PacMar Technologies is able to innovate thanks to their use of advanced simulation software tools from Siemens Digital Industries Software. These advanced simulations allow them to design and construct leading-edge prototypes for delivery to their customers. Even more than that – they’re able to come up with inventive design solutions that weren’t previously possible with the past design cycle model.

Designing anything that moves through or under the water requires the ability to understand the hydrodynamic benefits or consequences of the design. As part of their design cycle, they routinely utilize simulation to gain insights on the design of the outer lines of a vehicle to assess the hydrodynamics performance and make design modifications to ensure they’re meeting the required performance metrics.


simcenter starccm loading screen at PACMAR technologies in Oahu


The primary simulation solution utilized by PacMar Technologies is Simcenter STAR-CCM+, a world-class multi-physics solution for computational fluid dynamics. The simulation software is provided by Siemens in partnership with Applied CAx, a Siemens Smart Expert Partner that specializes in providing consulting and technical support.

“STAR-CCM+ is really in a class of its own as a commercial CFD package. The software is set up to give all users a comprehensive physics package. The developers are also computational cost aware and offer a number of options to support appropriate, reasonable grids while still delivering accurate solutions. The software is very user-friendly and offers a lot of portal support and training examples, which is helpful when we are onboarding new users or users who are more familiar with other CFD codes. STAR-CCM+ makes writing your own functions and scripts and using look-up tables relatively intuitive and smooth. This makes adding something like a physical control system for the vehicle in simulation very schedule and budget-friendly.”

— Priya Hicks
Chief Technology Officer
PacMar Technologies


Taking advantage of their location to record wave buoy data, the team created a virtual sea state. They numerically seeded Simcenter STAR-CCM+ and duplicated the real-world physics for use in their simulations.


 simulated drop test of the seablade hull in star-ccm+


Scale Model Testing vs Simulation

In order to design better products, engineers need to predict the consequences of any design changes on the real-world performance of their products (for better or worse). Historically, those predictions came from hand calculations or the experimental testing of physical prototypes.

In the traditional maritime design and development process, a scaled-down model would be built based on basic maritime calculations. It would then be tested in a tow tank to validate designs before constructing a full-size prototype. However, the size of water molecules doesn’t change, which means the interactions observed in a tow tank don’t match behaviors with full-size designs in the real world.

“Conducting numerous model scale tests can be cumbersome from a model build and data analysis perspective. It can really lengthen the design process and cause a novel solution to be unattractive due to the length of time it takes to ensure that the solution is the right fit.”


— Priya Hicks
Chief Technology Officer
PacMar Technologies

They’ve found a strong correlation between what happens in the real world and their Simcenter STAR-CCM+ simulations by performing physical testing to validate their data. This has given them the confidence to push their designs utilizing the tool. The team at PacMar Technologies is now so confident in their modeling and simulation process that they have reduced the time needed in traditional tow tanks compared to the typical maritime company. seablade cfd design mesh

Innovative Success Powered by Simulation

PacMar Technologies has had many successful surface ship programs in its history. One of the most successful has been their Sea Blade line of surface ships. Novel in its approach to hydrodynamics and performance, they leveraged STAR-CCM+ to run simulations on “many, many” iterations, doing different benchmark comparisons against different hull designs.

The most comparable hull ship is a Deep V hull design. Looking at the SeaBlade vs the Deep V, they showed a 23% reduction in slamming and a 50% reduction in roll response. They’re also able to go up an additional 2 knots in speed. These are key metrics for operator safety, allowing the operator to not only go faster but also avoid injuring crew and damaging machinery or electronics.

These designs would not be possible without having access to simulation. Without the reduction in risk, the cost of developing cutting-edge technologies would not have been possible.

Read more about the SeaBlade line of boats here.


SeaBlade vs Deep V hull comparison

Early Adopters Require Next-Level Support

Designing and building progressive, leading-edge prototypes wouldn’t be possible without a team of advanced design and simulation engineers, and the team at PacMar Technologies regularly pushes simulation software to its limits. As advanced users and early adopters of new technologies, they take advantage of every release update to STAR-CCM+, which occasionally means they require advanced technical support, provided by Applied CAx.

Pushing the limits of the CFD code can pose technical challenges for Applied’s support team, who lean on their expertise in the aerospace, defense, and energy industries to come up with niche solutions for the PacMar engineers.

CFD has been the backbone of PacMar Technologies’ engineering advantage in the marine industry, and it’s really helped us accelerate our design process to get to working prototypes. PacMar is pushing the limits of the CFD code, and Applied CAx support helps facilitate this.


— Scott Yamashita
Director of Naval Architecture
PacMar Technologies



Learn more about PacMar Technologies here.

It’s time to unleash your potential

Reach out to the team at Applied CAx to learn how our aerospace solutions can make your company’s goals achievable.