By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
The people at COMSOL recently released version 4.4 of their COMSOL Multiphysics platform for modeling and simulating electrical, mechanical, fluid, and chemical applications. That “4.4” business might lead you to believe that it’s just a tick up with a couple of new functions and some bug fixes. Not with COMSOL. They do not believe in sitting on major new tools until they hit some critical mass of them and can roll them out with a lot of fanfare. They stick to a schedule of delivering features a couple of times a year when they are well vetted because they know you need them right away.
Such is the case with COMSOL Multiphysics 4.4. It has a spread of new capabilities for users across all sorts of disciplines. It has a bunch of features of great interest to a few users, and a lot of features of interest to all, which leads me to guess that many of 4.4’s enhancements are user-requested. While I hesitate calling 4.4 a “major major” new release, it’s no minor bump up either. Version 4.4. debuts a new Windows desktop interface, a new Mixer add-on for the COMSOL CFD module, a new multiphysics coupling, and quite a few new features. So, it’s a pretty big rollout. Let’s take a look.
Version 4.4 introduces a new desktop interface for Windows systems. This is the ribbon interface that you probably are aware of augmented with a bunch of enhancements. The gist of this new environment is that it makes your workflow faster and easier so that you can do more work and less futzing with software. To that end, commands are ordered and displayed as needed. In other words, the physics and features applicable to what you’re doing at the moment are available to you in a structured, easy to access format.
But the real thing with the new Windows desktop interface is ease of use — from navigation to lots of one-click access to features — all of which makes your workflow more efficient and productive. For example, you can linger over a boundary or domain to highlight it then click once to select it. Another new feature is an auto-complete search function. This helps you quickly find the post-processing variables you need among all those you create during a project.
If you’re reading the HTML version of this message, the screen shot over there depicts the new Mixer Module add-on for the COMSOL CFD Module. This new module extends the rotating machinery capabilities of the COMSOL CFD Module with tools for simulating turbulent and laminar flows, Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids, free surfaces, non-isothermal flow, and reacting flow. So, if you work with industrial processes involving stirred mixers and reactors, this module provides the tools for simulating mixer and impeller designs, concentrations, velocities, and temperature profiles.
Version 4.4 also sees a new Multiphysics node in the model tree. Again, this is all about making your workflow more efficient. What this capability does is streamline how you set up multiphysics models. It displays the relevant couplings available for the work at hand, and from it you can select the physics combinations you need easily.
Version 4.4 also sees a lot of new features that span across the entire application suite as well as some more targeted areas. Core functionality enhancements include new geometry subsequences for user-defined geometric primitives, if/else statements in the model tree for geometry creation, and mesh export to NASTRAN file formats.
On the module side, the Heat Transfer Module now includes two fast, memory efficient methods for participating media. The CFD module has a more efficient outlet boundary condition and updated flow formulations for mass and energy conservation for laminar flows. The AC/DC Module now contains a nonlinear magnetic material library, and the Semiconductor Module now includes heterojunctions and tools for impact ionization among its other enhancements. The Acoustics, Optimization, Structural Mechanics, and Wave Optics are some of the other modules also see major enhancements.
And on it goes. There are simply way too many updates, enhancements, and new features in version 4.4 to cram into a short note like this. So, take a few minutes and hit the link over there. It takes you to a COMSOL Multiphysics 4.4 release highlights page. Scroll down just a bit and you’ll see a video. Watch it. (Hint: Just below the video are links to individual presentations, so you can skip to the one that you’re most interested in.) Good stuff. Well worth your checking out.
Thanks, Pal. – Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering