Complex simulations generate large data sets. To achieve good results, engineers might predetermine their analysis. Virtual reality for analysis of large scale simulations provides a tool for greater exploration and discovery. And that can lead to better designs.

Virtual Reality on the Engineering Desktop

Virtual reality in design and engineering has been very valuable for decades. And it has been very expensive. The explosion in VR head-mounted displays, HMDs, has the potential to bring VR to every engineer's desktop. With high-performance hardware available today, engineers need new software tools. The developers of STAR CCM+ are taking on that challenge. Professional Workstation had the chance to see the new STAR CCM+ virtual reality prototype for immersive analysis first hand.

In the big picture, the incremental costs to enable desktop VR for a simulation engineer are small. The HMDs are readily available. The simulation engineer has a high-performance workstation, and that workstation is likely to be VR-capable or very close to it. And the investment in simulation software, computing times, and simulation expertise is much more significant, while the benefit of better analysis add great value to most businesses.

Exploring large datasets intuitively and productively

Engineers already have well-developed tools for analysis of complex simulations. In spite of this, the approach to post-processed simulation analysis can often times be pre-determined. Virtual reality provides a tool for exploration as well as analysis. An engineer in a VR environment is able to easily interact with huge dataset in an intuitive and informative fashion. STAR CCM+ Product Manager, Matt Godo, points out that this tool opens new possibilities to verify designs, uncover issues, and discover new ideas. 

Matt and his colleagues presented the STAR CCM+ virtual reality prototype at the 2017 STAR Global Conference in Berlin. In one example, it was possible to examine the flows around an automobile design's contours. It was also possible to investigate simulation results inside the engine compartment and even inside the engine itself.  

Another simulation example examined the safety concerns in the case of a train fire inside the station. Virtual reality allows for an interactive verification and exploration of the simulation data in ways not possible before. 


The PW Perspective

Engineering VR is limited today only by applications. The STAR CCM+ team is delivering useful tools for engineers. Tools that extend the analytical evaluation with an immersive, discovery-oriented process. The benefits will be uncovering an otherwise overlooked problem or gaining new insights and ideas from simulation data. The incremental costs are small and the payoffs are large. The bottleneck for desktop engineering VR is having good applications.


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