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Project Falcon Graduates to Become Autodesk Flow Design

With an easy wizzard-like setup, Autodesk Flow Design targets non-experts seeking to explore airflow simulation.

Built-in visualization tools let you view pressure distribution, wind speed, and flow lines in 2D cross-sectional planes or 3D.

Nearly two years ago, Project Falcon made its debut in Autodesk Labs, as a preview of the company’s wind-tunnel simulation technology. This week, the project becomes a bona fide product. Returning as Autodesk Flow Design, the product functions both as a standalone application (PC or Mac) or a plug-in for Autodesk Inventor (for mechanical design) and Revit (for architectural design).

Wind tunnel or airflow simulation is usually the domain of experts, a market served by high end CFD software makers. Autodesk Flow Design, however, targets designers with limited exposure to simulation. The simple wizard-like setup lets users import existing geometry and set up simulation scenarios (for instance, simulating the airflow around a vehicle traveling at a certain speed, or a stadium of a certain shape) with just a few input parameters.

With built-in visualization tools, Flow Design lets users view the simulation results in as pressure distribution, velocity plots, wind speed, and flow lines.  The product supports a robust selection of simulation input formats, including STL, OBJ, and DWG.

Consistent with Autodesk’s recent push for pay-as-you-go licensing, Flow Design is offered as monthly or annual rental ($35/user/month or $210/user/year). The base product, Autodesk Inventor, is part of Autodesk Product Design suite, also offered in monthly or yearly rental licensing ($315/month or $2,500/year).

In the blog post launching the product, Autodesk PR wrote, “This type of early conceptual understanding can benefit a wide range of users, including vehicle designers that need to understand how aerodynamic performance is impacted by form changes; building designers that need to see how a cluster of new buildings might effect wind levels in the pedestrian areas connecting them; and consumer product designers who want to see how their conceptual design for, say, a golf club or a helmet, behaves in the wind.”

For detailed airflow study in a later stage of the design, a higher end CFD product would still be the preferred choice for many. However, for those seeking to study and refine their products’ shapes earlier in the development cycle, a simple, easy-to-use program like Autodesk Flow Design is a viable option.

Efforts to make simulation accessible beyond the expert circle are ongoing, led by some simulation software vendors. In the last few years, cloud-hosted simulation, or browser-based simulation, also emerged as a more affordable alternative for a wider audience. At $35 a month, Autodesk Flow Design is a low-risk, no-commitment proposition for designers who want to dabble in simulation.

For more, watch Autodesk’s video below:

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About Kenneth

Kenneth Wong has been a regular contributor to the CAD industry press since 2000, first an an editor, later as a columnist and freelance writer for various publications. During his nine-year tenure, he has closely followed the migration from 2D to 3D, the growth of PLM (product lifecycle management), and the impact of globalization on manufacturing. His writings have appeared in Cadalyst, Computer Graphics World, and Manufacturing Business Technology, among others.

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