Tools to test the effect of winds on our building models

What tools are available for the effect of winds on our models? Or how to choose your CFD software?

Hi all,

Several architecture firms today, having adopted Revit or BIM software a long time ago or very recently, would like to go further in the use of their models. Indeed, with a well-constructed model, we can go and draw information; on 4D and see the effect of time on our model, on 5D and better understand the effect of the choice of materials or configurations on the project budget or, and this is where we are interested, 6D with the different studies that we can do with the model such as sun studies, heat gains and, for the subject of this blog, the effect of wind on our building and those around them.

Prior to 2018, Autodesk offered integrated software called Flow Design. The latter allowed with the added ribbon, to see the different streams directly in Revit, which was wonderful.

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I imagine that the constraints and more advanced options requested by users caused this software to be removed from Autodesk's list, a pity for those who wanted to have access to this kind of simplified analysis directly in Revit. Autodesk Flow Design was indeed, the easiest CFD software to use at the time with its integration into Revit.

However, Autodesk has developed a more powerful tool offering more options and working with Fusion 360. This Software is called Autodesk CFD, CFD meaning: Computational Fluid Dynamics. By fluid, this includes liquids and gases. Now a tool in its own right, it allows to optimize designs and automate them. Several types of simulations are possible, such as thermal studies, wind flow on outdoor buildings, but also indoor as for data centers studies, etc.

A complete solution by Autodesk, but there are also other solutions available if CFD is too expensive or complex for you, so here is the list of those that are the most fashionable at the time of writing this article. Have a good read.

Autodesk CFD

Advantage: Efficient and made for this kind of work. Better integrated with Autodesk products. Offers a multitude of simulation options. On premise software, so more stable.

Disadvantage: Expensive and somewhat complex (not complicated, there is a difference.

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Ingrid Cloud plug in

Advantage: Easy to use and works with Revit.

Disadvantage: Only in 2018 version and below. It would require making a simplified model in this version to use with Ingrid Cloud.

You must evaluate if it is worthwhile to only do a simple volumetric of your 2019 and up project quickly to arrive at the desired result. You would need access to a Revit 2018 to install it.

CDF blog 20210819 image 05 Ingrid plugin

SimFlow 

www.sim-flow.com

Advantage: Less expensive, possibility of free version.

Disadvantage: It seems that we can have only 2 flows (2 wind directions for example) with the free version.

I downloaded the trial version, and it doesn't respond well with heavier models that take a very long time to load into SimFlow. I used the model we use for our training, which includes more than one discipline. I had to change my model and do my test with a super simple house for it to load quickly: 4 walls, a floor, and a roof ...

Like any software, it requires some learning, but does not seem too complex if you follow the steps. You must export in STL from Revit, create meshes etc. There are still a good number of explanatory videos on YouTube that will allow a self-taught person to do well.

ANSYS Live

www.ansys.com/products/3d-design/ansys-discovery

Advantage: Really a beautiful product, modern interface, clean, efficient.
Disadvantage: Their price list is on call, so not visible on the internet.

Seems well done according to the images, but I haven't been able to try it in trial version yet. Indeed, I received an email from them following my request for a trial version and they say that they must look at the file because the software comes from the USA and there are export rules that they must check. I could give you more news in the future.

CDF blog 20210819 image 06 Ansys Live

CFD blog 20210819 image 07 Ansys live

Simscale

www.simscale.com

Advantage: On the Cloud, so no need for installation, seems very interesting graphically and easy to use with a clean and efficient interface.
Disadvantage: Their price list is on call, so not visible on the internet.

I created an account for myself, and everything was very simple. They say on their site that creating a study takes a few minutes, but I doubt it a little. Maybe for someone who is used to this kind of study.

Here are some images:

CDF blog 20210819 image 08 simscale

CDF blog 20210819 image 09 simscale

I had fun with the Hobby version of SimScale and made a tutorial on a golf ball trajectory and it took me about an hour to do. It should have resulted in the following, but I had to miss a step because the study came back with an error. It's like anything else, it takes practice.

CDF blog 20210819 image 10 simscale

Finally, I found this link that shows a large list of products, some that are more specialized with objects and are related with Inventor or Solidworks. In short, I do not see any plug and play software where we could load our Revit model directly and that everything would be done on its own... I wish... It still takes basic knowledge in this kind of study if you want to go fast.

https://www.resolvedanalytics.com/theflux/comparing-cfd-software 

For those who are interested, Graitec has application specialists who can help you understand certain concepts, advise you and set up your first test, on Autodesk CFD of course, but also on other software depending on your choice since the basics are quite all the same when it comes to choose the type of test, velocity, air compression etc...

In short, there are still some options depending on your budget and needs. Hoping that my research helps you decide on a software and allow you to go a little higher in your BIMup journey and capitalize on your models.

Big thanks to James Alger from Graitec Toronto for his help.

Éric Bernier Adm.A, Can-BIM CP
Technical Director for North America
Graitec Canada

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