Q: What is FLOWCast™?
A: FLOWCast is the fluid flow modeling module for mold filling simulation, which works in conjunction with the SOLIDCast™ modeling system. The FLOWCast module must be purchased separately. It is installed and activated in the same way as SOLIDCast and OPTICast.
Q: What can FLOWCast do?
A: FLOWCast simulates the flow of liquid metal into a mold, along with the cooling of the metal and the heating of the mold. This is a full CFD simulation of fluid flow, taking into account momentum, pressure and velocity of the molten metal as well as viscous losses at the mold wall.
Q: What is CFD?
A: CFD stands for Computational Fluid Dynamics, which refers to a numerical solution of the Navier-Stokes equations that govern fluid flow.
Q: Does FLOWCast use the same models as SOLIDCast?
A: Yes. FLOWCast uses exactly the same models that SOLIDCast uses. You build your models in the same way, and mesh them the same way. FLOWCast uses the meshed SOLIDCast model to run its simulation.
Q: How do I run FLOWCast?
A: First of all, you build your model (with Fill Material) and mesh it just as you normally would in SOLIDCast. There are then three ways to start FLOWCast:
- If you only want to run a fill simulation with FLOWCast, without a subsequent SOLIDCast solidification simulation, you can select the Mesh icon on the SOLIDCast Project Tree, click on the Mesh menu item, and from the drop-down menu you can select Start FLOWCast. This will appear as follows:
This will bring up FLOWCast in an “Interactive Mode”, when you can use the FLOWCast menu to start a simulation, change the view angle, set the percent increments for saving data, and make movie files after the simulation is done.
- If you want to run a FLOWCast fill simulation and then automatically run a SOLIDCast solidification simulation afterward (using the results of the FLOWCast fill simulation as the starting point for the SOLIDCast run), then you would select the Mesh menu entry and select Start Simulation as shown below:
You will then see the typical “Simulation Start” window as shown below, but with a difference: With FLOWCast installed you can select between the traditional SOLIDCast mold filling simulation, the FLOWCast Quick simulation, or the FLOWCast Full simulation, as shown below:
If you select FLOWCast Full, FLOWCast will run in “Auto-Run” Mode. This means that FLOWCast will start automatically, run to completion, and then SOLIDCast will run a simulation of solidification, using the results of the FLOWCast fill simulation.
- The third way to run FLOWCast is to add a mesh to the queue, to run in unattended mode later, when the computer would not normally be used. This is the bottom option on the Mesh menu:
Details on activating and running the queue are given in Unit 46 of the SOLIDCast workbook.
Q: If I run a FLOWCast simulation in Auto-Run Mode, how can I load it to see the fill simulation results?
A: If a FLOWCast simulation has been run on a mesh (in either Interactive Mode or
Auto-Run Mode) you will see a FLOWCast icon on the Project Tree that looks like this:
If you select Mesh and Start FLOWCast from the menu, FLOWCast will load the previous simulation run. You can then view this run or create movies from it.
Q: If I have run a FLOWCast simulation in Interactive Mode, how can I run a SOLIDCast simulation of solidification using the FLOWCast results?
A: In this case, select Mesh and Start Simulation, and then select SOLIDCast as the Fill Algorithm. SOLIDCast will first check to see if the results of a FLOWCast simulation are available; if so, it will use these results as the starting point of a solidification simulation.
Q: Will FLOWCast work with permanent mold (gravity die-casting) simulations?
A: Yes! FLOWCast can be run in Auto-Run Mode for each cycle of a permanent mold simulation. If you use the option where initial cycles are run with a coarse mesh to warm up the mold and the final cycle is run with a refined mesh, you now have another option. You can choose to select one algorithm to use for the warm-up cycles and a different algorithm for the final cycle. This appears as follows:
Q: Can FLOWCast handle tilt-pour permanent mold simulation?
A: Yes! Just specify the tilt pour using the File…Options menu selection in SOLIDCast while building the model. (Note: ONLY the Full FLOWCast algorithm may be used for a Tilt-Pour simulation. The Quick FLOWCast algorithm does NOT simulate tilt pour.)
A new function of the software is called Fixed Volume Fill. This is the most accurate way to model the Tilt-Pour Process in Permanent Mold Casting, or the Roll-Over Process in Investment Casting. When you use Fixed Volume Fill, you create a model of the pouring cup or crucible, which starts full of metal. This metal is transferred to the shell or die during the filling process, due to rotation of the die or furnace. Full details on the setup of these processes is given in Unit 46 of the SOLIDCast workbook.
Q: Can I run FLOWCast using mold temperatures that have already been calculated in a SOLIDCast simulation?
A: Yes! If you start FLOWCast in Interactive Mode (by selecting Mesh… Start FLOWCast from the SOLIDCast menus), and if a simulation has already been run on that mesh (which you can tell if there is a Simulation icon on the Project Tree) then the following selection box will appear:
This means that, if you start a FLOWCast simulation running, you can select to use either the initial temperature values of the materials or the temperature distribution as a result of the SOLIDCast simulation. So, for example, if you have completed a permanent mold simulation and want to run FLOWCast using the calculated temperature distribution in the mold, you can select Use Temperature Data from the simulation and then start FLOWCast running with the mold temperature data.
Note: If a FLOWCast simulation has already been run on a mesh, that simulation will be loaded automatically when you start FLOWCast in Interactive Mode. You can select Restart in FLOWCast to start a new flow simulation running.
Q: How is FLOWCast data stored?
A: Before running a FLOWCast simulation, the user specifies a % increment for saving time-step data. This means that after the simulation is complete, you can view the filling at each of
these percent increments but not in between. When video files are made, they are created using these saved time steps. Saving at each 5% creates relatively large time steps; each 1% creates a relatively “smooth” video file. The size of the output data files depends partly on the number of time steps, and partly on the number of nodes. Note that you can set a separate increment for temperature data only. This allows you to save more temperature data, which is used most often, than velocity and pressure data. This helps to minimize file sizes.
FLOWCast creates large data sets. It is recommended that, after creating the output views or video files that you want from the simulation, you archive the project folder to a CD or other off-line storage medium or delete the FLOWCast information from the project tree.
Q: What information can FLOWCast display?
A: From a Full FLOWCast simulation, the system can display (and make video files of) temperature, velocity and pressure during the fill. In addition, you can show Fill Temperature and Fill Time, which display the Temperature and Time at a given location when that node first fills. A Quick FLOWCast simulation can show temperature and velocity, but not pressure. These types of displays are as shown below (in a partially-filled investment casting model):
Temperature Velocity Pressure
Fill Temperature Fill Time
You can also add flow pathlines and metal velocity vectors to the 3D plots and animations.
Q: What kind of computer should I have for running FLOWCast?
A: FLOWCast is very computationally intensive and creates a lot of data. Therefore, we recommend the fastest and largest computer that your budget will allow. At this time, this would mean 20 or more GB RAM, 1 TB SSD (Solid State Drive), Intel i7 processor with multi-core and fastest clock speed, Video Card compatible with DirectX 10 or 11 and Windows 10 Pro.
Q: Can I run more than one FLOWCast simulation simultaneously?
A: Yes! Several FLOWCast (and SOLIDCast) simulations may be running on a single computer at one time. As long as you have enough installed memory, each simulation will run at ‘full speed’. As the full system transitions from 32 bit to 64 bit, multi-threading will be added, to apply more than one processor to a single simulation.
Using FLOWCast’s Interactive Mode
This section will take you on a quick tour of FLOWCast’s most useful commands. In this Quick Start Guide, you should learn enough to be able to start and stop FLOWCast, change simulation and display modes, and generate video files of mold filling.
When you start FLOWCast by selecting Mesh… Start FLOWCast in the SOLIDCast menu, you are entering FLOWCast’s Interactive Mode. When FLOWCast first appears, you should see a screen similar to this:
Note the Toolbar at the top of the screen, which looks like this:
The buttons on the Toolbar are used for controlling the simulation.
Q: How do I select between a Full Simulation and a Quick Simulation?
A: The hourglass button is used to toggle between Quick and Full. If this button is depressed, you are in Quick Mode. If it is “popped out”, you are in Full Mode. When FLOWCast is first started in Interactive Mode, it is in Full Mode.
Q: How do I start a FLOWCast simulation?
A: Just click the double arrow button to start the simulation running.
Q: How do I interrupt (stop) a FLOWCast simulation that is running?
A: Click the “Stop Sign” button. You may need to wait a few seconds for the simulation to actually stop, as FLOWCast needs a little time to organize its data for the stop.
Q: How do I restart a FLOWCast simulation that has been interrupted?
A: If you want to start from the same point, just click the double arrow again.
However, if you want to restart the simulation from the beginning, first click the Restart button as shown above. This will reset FLOWCast to the beginning. You can then make changes in parameters and press the Start button (double arrow) to start again.
Q: What will I see when FLOWCast starts running?
You will see the molten metal beginning to run into the mold cavity. This should look something like the following: