Using Real-Time CFD to Drive Design

Written By: Dave Martin
  • 9/30/2020
  • Read Time : 3 min.
Real-time computational fluid dynamics in Creo 7.

As a CAD administrator, I have been responsible for maintaining the connections between Creo Parametric and other software products. This included software for computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

This field of analysis is complex because it involves multiphysics, the combination of coupled processes for fluid motion and heat transfer (thermodynamics). CFD can involve compressible and incompressible fluids and both laminar and turbulent flows. It is one of the more advanced areas of simulation and analysis.

Working in aerospace, CFD is an absolute necessity. When I worked on drones, we needed to analyze the flow of external air over the fuselage, airfoils, and propellers. In rocket development, you need to study the flow of the fuel and oxidizer fluids through pumps, chambers, and other components.

In the past, Creo Parametric lacked a native option for performing CFD simulations. Therefore, we had to rely on external third-party solutions. We experienced some problems in using these:

  • We had to develop process workflows or incorporate interfaces between our design and analysis tools.
  • Since we had to export geometry from Creo Parametric in a neutral format like STEP, our design models were disconnected from the analysis model. Changes to the design require exporting the model again and recreating the fluid bodies and boundary conditions.
  • Since this workflow was disjointed, seeing the effects of design changes on simulation results was tedious and time consuming.
  • We needed separate experts to perform the CFD. They usually came in at the end of design process, when changes were more difficult to implement. Since the experts were in high demand, they were not always readily available.

Creo Parametric 5.0 represented a huge evolution in the design workflow with the introduction of Creo Simulation Live (CSL) powered by ANSYS. This technology enabled real-time simulation for design engineers. They could set up boundary conditions and load sets for structural, thermal, and modal analyses. The results were computed almost instantaneously since the meshing and analysis were performed using your computer’s GPU.

Creo Parametric 7.0 provides another leap by incorporating CFD into Creo Simulation Live. Now anyone can experience the same benefits of CFD that designers and engineers have realized for structural and thermal workflows since 2018.

The new capabilities include the following:

  • Simulating internal and external flows
  • Automatic creation of fluid bodies from bounding faces
  • Defining boundary conditions, including velocity, pressure, and mass flow
  • Out-of-the-box material properties for fluids like water, air, and engine oil
  • Viewing the flow results as particles, streamlines, or a direction field


What Does This Mean for Your Workflows?

CFD in Creo Simulation Live provides seamless simultaneous performance of design and analysis. As you make changes to the model, the results update automatically and immediately, providing instant feedback.

You no longer need to be an expert in CFD to perform simulation. Expertise helps, of course, but the experts might not always be available. You can speed up your team’s workflows by performing the basic analyses yourself, freeing up the experts’ time for the heavy lifting and complicated problems.

Next Steps

You don’t have to take my word on these new capabilities for CFD. Creo Simulation Live provides a free trial (and free training).

If you already have Creo Parametric, upgrade to 7.0 (if you haven’t already). Then go to the Live Simulation tab and start your free trial, so you can test drive CFD simulations for yourself.

Creo 7.0. The Future of How You Design.

  • CAD
  • Retail and Consumer Products
  • Connected Devices

About the Author

Dave Martin

Dave Martin is a former Creo, Windchill, and Mathcad instructor and consultant. After leaving PTC, he was the Creo specialist for Amazon; and a mechanical engineer, Creo administrator, and Windchill administrator for Amazon Prime Air. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and currently works as an avionics engineer for Blue Origin. 

Martin is the author of the books Design Intent in Creo Parametric and Top Down Design in Creo Parametric--both available at He can be reached at