Simcenter Simulation: CFD Solutions for Every Engineer

November 15, 2023

This article explores how front-loading computational fluid dynamics (CFD) early in the design process can reduce development time and costs. Traditionally, CFD is limited to validating finished CAD, but early integration allows hundreds of rapid simulations to create better concepts.


Simcenter is a suite of simulation and analysis tools offered by Siemens that covers system simulation, detailed CAE simulation, and physical testing. The suite of tools includes CFD solutions from CAD-embedded FLOEFD for designers to advanced STAR-CCM+ for experts. Tight integration and automation are critical to empowering engineers for self-service. Studies show FLOEFD matching wind tunnel tests, proving user-friendly CFD can deliver high accuracy. By incorporating CFD upfront with Simcenter, engineers can develop superior products faster.


front loading cfd design infographic


The Traditional Design Path


In a standard development process, a CAD model is given to analysts for assessment and the delivery of recommendations. From these initial results, some recommendations will be made to influence the next version of the design, which will go through this cycle again. Only a few CFD studies are conducted due to budget and timeline constraints, limiting the impact CFD findings can have in influencing the design.


Front-Loading CFD


Now, let’s look at a process where we front-load our CFD design. Front-loading CFD means seamlessly connecting CAD with simulation to enable rapid design exploration. Running potentially hundreds of simulations early on allows CFD to influence concept development rather than offering hindsight-based feedback significantly.


With a high turnover, instead of a few CFD runs, we can get out tens to hundreds of runs where CFD can really influence the design early on and lead to innovative solutions.


Not only do we need a strong connection between CAD and CFD, but we also need a range of tools that match the experience levels of designers, engineers, and analysts within a design team. We can’t always wait for the availability of experts to weigh in. Once we have reached an optimal design, a final detailed verification CFD run could be performed before moving to final testing and production.


What we end up with is a significant reduction in time and cost of the development.



  • Simcenter customers have observed up to 75% reduction in development time
  • Cost savings from accelerated design finalization
  • Superior products with CFD-optimized performance




democratization of cfd solutions


Simcenter Tools for Front-Loading CFD


For front-loading CFD, let’s look at some of the main CFD packages under the Siemens Simcenter portfolio and discuss how these can fit into your engineering group. All of these packages can be closely tied to CAD geometry to facilitate rapid evaluations of concepts at the beginning of the design process, which will save time and costs. In any engineering team, there is a range of users and expertise, and there are products available to fit their specializations and keep them tied to the digital thread.


At the design end, we have products like Simcenter FLoEFD and FLoTherm. These are CAD-driven CFD tools that are easy to use by general designers and engineers who did not spend years studying for advanced degrees in computational fluid mechanics. These tools are a critical part of the digital thread to allow engineers and designers access to quickly and accurately assess their concepts at the very beginning. FloEFD is a general-purpose CFD tool, whereas Flotherm is geared toward electronics and provides a range of CFD solutions tailored to user skills ranging from designers to expert analysts.


floefd cfd solution for cad


FLOEFD: CAD-embedded general-purpose CFD for rapid design studies


FLOEFD is a CAD-embedded CFD tool that can be directly integrated into popular CAD packages such as NX or SolidEdge. This tool is specifically configured to be used by designers and engineers to investigate concepts early in the design phase and frontload the CFD process. One of the most challenging aspects of the CFD is coming up with the initial mesh. FloEFD takes advantage of SmartCells technology to significantly reduce meshing time and generate meshes that yield accurate results with a robust solver. By allowing designers to investigate their concepts early on, you will significantly reduce the product development lifecycle.


floefd ease and accuracy


Now, a knock you always hear about these CAD-embedded tools (especially from us analysts) is a question about the accuracy.  How can an easy-to-use CFD tool produce accurate results when CFD is so inherently complex?


JSAE performed a blind test to evaluate leading commercial CFD tools by simulating flow over a standard Ahmed body.  Experimental wind tunnel test results from particle imaging measurements showed that both Simcenter products, FloEFD and STAR-CCM+, came the closest to matching experimental results.  With ease of use, FloEFD provides accurate solutions that designers can use to flush out initial design concepts.



flotherm electronics cooling solution 2


Flotherm: Electronics cooling simulations with eCAD integration


A second CFD tool that designers and analysts also use is Simcenter Flotherm. This tool has many ease-of-use features as FloEFD, but is more specialized for thermal analysis of power electronic assemblies. In addition to CAD, you can also integrate ECAD data of electronic board layouts and have access to a large library of vendor components to ensure you have an accurate thermal representation of the design.


Flotherm features an automated workflow where model changes can be quickly reevaluated to assess potential design improvements. This feature allows the user to explore early in the initial design and compress development time to deliver advanced products. The robust solver and large library of commercial components can eliminate the need for thermal prototyping.


star ccm multiphysics solution for cfd


STAR-CCM+: Advanced multiphysics CFD for deep insights


Finally, we have Simcenter STAR-CCM+, the flagship CFD code under the Simcenter umbrella. STAR-CCM+ is geared toward the experienced analyst and offers the most comprehensive range of advanced multiphysics models. The driving force behind STAR-CCM+ is to allow the analyst to build a comprehensive digital twin that captures the real geometry and physics of the final design. Like FLOEFD, STAR-CCM+ has a single CAD-to-solution environment that takes advantage of meshing automation to allow the user to evaluate design changes quickly. Even though this is a heavy-hitting tool, it can still be used at the beginning of the design process for rapid iterations of exploring the design space. The detailed physics capabilities of STAR-CCM+ can also be used to replace costly prototype testing by creating a true digital twin.


Under the Siemens Simcenter portfolio, there is a range of CFD solutions available that focus on ensuring there is the proper fit for all designers, engineers, and analysts. By getting CFD technology into the hands of your designers in an easy-to-use and interpret method, you can start front-loading your CFD designs to reduce development time and cost. There is also the range to go deep into the complexity and physics to ensure you have a true digital twin that can be used to replace costly physical testing.


Contact Applied CAx to determine which solution fits your needs and front-load your next project.

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