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CFD Grids with Pointwise - New Features

What's New in Pointwise's CFD Mesh Generation Software (Archive)

Jump to version 17.2 R2, 17.2, 17.1, 17.0, 16.04, 16.03, 16.02, 16.01, or 16.00.

V17.2 R2 - Improved Hex Layers from T-Rex

Pointwise V17.2 R2 features an improved hex layer capability in the T-Rex hybrid meshing technique plus several user experience additions. For another summary, read New Capabilities Coming to Pointwise in the July 2014 issue of The Connector.

hex layers in T-Rex

T-Rex's hex layer capabilities were improved by changing how near-wall tets are agglomerated into hexes. The changes results in a signficant speed-up, more layers, and fewer isotropic farfield cells.

In addition to implementing the latest libraries from CT Core Technologies, our CAD interoperability partner, the reader has been implemented as a separate process for improved robustness.

You now have native support for two additional flow solvers: Edge from Sweden's FOI and LAURA from NASA Langley.

align the view to any surface

The orientation of the view in the Display window can be aligned with the normal vector of any selected surface. Also, view transitions to saved orientations can now be animated.

use the drawing guide to align points

A drawing guide consisting of an array of vertical and horizontal lines can be overlayed on the Display window as a visual aid for aligning points on the screen for various operations. Also, the option to disable snapping to a selected point (previously available only in the Tweak command) has been added to all other commands that use the 3D point placement tools.

Two new Glyph commands give you more control over entity selection. One command returns a list of the currently selected entities. The other lets you specify which entities are selected upon script termination.

Using the Save Selection As command, selected entities (and all other entities on which they depend) can be written to a new PW project file. With the Save Environment As command, all your settings ‐ defaults, layers, properties, views, saved examine cuts, etc. but no entities – can be written to a PW file for loading at the beginning of a new project.

project a curve's shape and keep its grid point distribution

You now have the option of projecting only a connector's shape while retaining its distribution attributes.

V17.2 - Hex-Tet Meshing in T-Rex

Pointwise V17.2 incorporates a new meshing algorithm, performance improvements, and a wide variety of new features. For a summary, read Pointwise V17.2 Now Available in the April 2014 issue of The Connector.

hex layers in T-Rex

Pointwise now supports hexahedral cell combination for T-Rex meshes created from structured surface domains. The T-Rex vertex deformation order has been modified for structured domains allowing the necessary combination information to be stored during layer advancement. Beyond the first layer, a single hex cell will replace twelve tets, significantly reducing the cell count on export.

quad surface meshes as a T-Rex boundary condition

Structured domains can now be used as true match boundary conditions for T-Rex. On export, with recombination enabled, the exposed quad faces of the recombined prisms from the viscous unstructured extrusion match the quad faces of the structured domain. Beyond the extrusion, pyramids are used to transition from the quad faces of the domain to tets in the unstructured block.

user positionable light source

The quality of shaded surface display has been improved through the use of OpenGL shaders (on supported hardware). Also, a user-positionable light source has been added.

grids can be mirrored during export

This feature provides the capability to export a full-symmetry grid to a CAE file when the user has only created a half-symmetry grid.

new drop-down menu for Draw Curves

The Draw Curves button on the toolbar has been modified to be a dropdown menu allowing you to either select the default curve type and begin drawing or choose another curve type which then becomes the default.

Pointwise is now compatible with FUN3D, SC/Tetra V9, Gambit and the STAR-CD interface has been updated.

Blocks with internal faces, both closed and open, can now be assembled automatically.

Pointwise now supports the latest version of the CFD file standard, CGNS v3.2. With this upgrade Pointwise now also supports the export of both unstructured and structured zones to the same CGNS file.

Entities selected in the Examine, Rules command remain selected when the command is closed. This way you can use the Rules to identify bad grids, select them, and have them remain selected for the Solver or other commands.

In addition to Red Hat Linux, Pointwise is now supported on SUSE Linux, CentOS, and Ubuntu.

Pointwise now exports pyramids to Nastran files as true pyramids and not degenerate prisms.


Pointwise V17.1

advancing front surface mesh

An advancing front algorithm may now be used to generate unstructured surface meshes. This method is an alternative to the Delaunay algorithm currently in use and can be applied on a domain-by-domain basis or as the default method for all new domains.

improved PW file I/O performance

The PW file format has been changed from HDF5 to a proprietary format that is up to 100 times faster to read and write.

probing spacings in Distribute

The Distribute command now provides the ability to probe the grid spacing values at individual grid points.

distribution direction while copying

When copying a distribution of grid points from one connector to another, the direction of the connectors being copied from is now displayed.

Add/Remove Edges

Similar to the Add/Remove Faces for unstructured blocks, adding and removing edges for unstructured domains has been added to the Edit menu.

user interface for baffles

The Edit menu's Add Faces command has been extended to also provide removal of faces from a block. The command is now called Add/Remove Faces.

CAE solver attributes

Global grid and flow attributes (for example, freestream Mach number, units) can now be set and exported for the CAE solvers that support them.

Glide on/off

Glide (whether or not the grid continues to pan, zoom, or rotate after you stop moving the mouse) can now be toggled on or off as a preference.

Many new accelerator keys (for example, Ctrl+J for Join) have been added to the product.

The On Database Entities command for creating connectors has been extended to work directly with Database Boundaries (the minimum and maximum iso-parametric lines of an untrimmed surface, or any of the bounding edges of a trimmed surface). This means you no longer have to manually trace those boundaries or create connectors for a surface and delete the boundaries you don't want.

New functions were added to the API to better support CAE solvers that support grid data in face-based rather than node-based format.

The CAE solver interfaces for CFX, Cobalt, Fluent, SC/Tetra, and STAR-CD have been updated.

Pointwise V17.0

T-Rex volume meshing

The T-Rex technique is now available for hybrid volume meshing.

native cad readers

CAD data can be imported from ACIS, CATIA, NX, Pro/E, STEP, and SolidWorks.

user interface for grouping

Entities can now be organized into groups for ease in selection and additional organization beyond layers.

user interface for copying spacings

Spacings constraints are now easily copied and pasted.

user interface for re-extrude

Extruded grids may be reworked using Re-extrude by extruding more, backing up, or changing attributes.

user interface for baffles

Baffles can now be used to control clustering and model thin surfaces.

spacing constraints in list

Spacing constraints are now available in the List for selection, sorting, and setting.

U,V highlighter for geometry surfaces

The parametric coordinates of database surfaces can be examined using highlighter lines.

pyramid apex calculations

Controls have been added to deconflict pyramid apexes in concave corners.

options for diagonlizing a grid

The diagonalize command provides options for hiding or deleting the original structured grid.

structured solver panel changes

The structured solver now provides per-entity feedback on residuals.

The CAE solver interfaces for CFX, CFD++, STAR-CD, and TETREX have been updated.

Graphics of your mesh can now be drawn in double precision.

A projection button has been added to the solver panel.

A layer's contents can now be added to the current selection with one click.

Database boundaries can now be used as the basis for create offset curves.

Pointwise V16.04 - T-Rex for Surface Grids and More

T-Rex for hybrid surface meshing

You can now generate hybrid, boundary layer surface meshes using the T-Rex (anisotropic triangle extrusion) algorithm.

Move individual grid points with Tweak

Tweak, a new command unique to Pointwise, can be used to move individual grid points in surface and volume meshes.

Split and join faceted geometry

If you work with faceted geometry models (shells), you can now split them with planes. Shell joining has also been added.

Create and import annotation entities

You can now create and import annotation entities (notes) in the geometry model. Unlike notes in Gridgen, notes in Pointwise are treated consistently whether imported or created and give you the ability to control font, decoration and other attributes.

Overwrite interblock connections with a BC

Interblock connections can now be overwritten with a flow solver boundary condition for modeling thin surfaces.

Visualize problems cells for the tet mesher

Problematic cells that prevent the tet mesher from generating a mesh are now highlighted in order to provide feedback helps direct your corrective actions.

Print to PNG, BMP, or TIFF

Using Print to File, you can capture the Display window screen and save it to a PNG, BMP, or TIFF file. Optional capabilities can be used to save high-resolution images that are better suited for print publication.

Most recently executed scripts appear in the menu

A list of your most recently executed scripts appears at the bottom of the Script menu so you can easily recall and rerun them.

View and count cell Jacobians by type

Examination of cell Jacobians has been enhanced through the addition of user options to display and count cells of various Jacobian types. A similar change was made to examination of Database Associativity with counts of points on and off the database.

Save and clear the Messages window

New capabilities have been added to save (in HTML or plain text), copy, and clear the contents of the Message window. All three capabilities are available by right-clicking in the Message window. Also, a checkbox for clearing the Message window was added to the New command's Restart option.

A second set of coordinate axes can be displayed at the origin.

A second coordinate axis can be displayed (in blue) at the origin of the X, Y, Z coordinate system.

Rainbow colors now available on the toolbar

A shortcut button to Rainbow Colors has been added to the View toolbar so you can apply it to multiple entities without opening the Attributes panel. Also, a new command for applying Rainbow colors was added to the Glyph scripting language.

Pointwise now supports all the CAE solvers that Gridgen supports including GASP, INCA, NSAERO, Exodus II, TASCflow, Tecplot, WIND, and WIND-US. The STAR-CCM+ interface was rewritten and now exports a .ccm file compatible with their latest release.
Pointwise now remembers two separate file paths: one for file import, export, open, and save and a second for executing and journaling scripts. Sort gives you the ability to control the order in which blocks are exported to CAE or grid files. You can sort manually or by name, size, or type.
The CAE plugin API has been extended to support structured grid data and file types. A CAE interface to CFL3D has been added.
Surface meshes can be imported from UGRID files with quads diagonalized to create triangles. A native 64-bit Mac OS X build is now available for 10.6 Snow Leopard.

Pointwise V16.03 - Solid Meshing

This CAD model was automatically assembled into a solid model during IGES import and is now ready for meshing.
Solid Meshing in Pointwise V16.03

The Solid Meshing feature suite, first introduced in Gridgen in 2006, has been ported to and enhanced in Pointwise. By creating a solid model of the database, gaps are implicitly closed resulting in a watertight geometry that's ready for mesh generation. In addition to models, Pointwise supports quilts, sub-regions of the geometry to be meshed as a single unit. The entire feature suite includes model import from CAD files, automatic model and quilt assembly during CAD import, manual assembly of quilts and models, trimming and untrimming surfaces, and the ability to mesh quilts and models.

You can now add to Pointwise support for additional CAE solvers. This feature exploits a new plugin API through which you can define a new CAE solver and write the code for exporting its files. Plugins are automatically detected at run time and appear in the CAE menu along with all the built-in solvers. Currently, all grids are exported as unstructured data. Structured grid support will be added in a future version.

3D mice, specifically the SpaceNavigator and SpaceExplorer devices from 3Dconnexion, are now supported as devices for image manipulation. Platform support has been extended to include Windows 64-bit and Windows 7.

Push, pull, and twist the 3D mouse for image control while using the traditional mouse for the GUI.
Pointwise Supports 3D Mice

Periodicity is now supported. It allows two connectors or domains to be slaved together so that changes made to one are automatically reflected in the other.

The attributes panel was rearranged to clarify the nature of the various options. New icon buttons were added for displaying the fill and line styles. Visibility of connector grids points and DB curve control points will be toggled on and off with icon buttons. Also, a simplified version of Display Attributes has been implemented on the toolbar. Fill, Line, Color and Points attributes of the current selection are immediately changed by clicking an icon in a toolbar menu.

An Edge Length function is now available in the Examine command. The new Examine functions Boundary Proximity and Surface Proximity are used to measure gaps between adjacent surfaces and distances between two coincident surfaces.

The Extract command (what Gridgen called Feature Extraction) is now available for interactive application to shell (faceted) database entities. Extract finds hard edges in the shell using a limit-angle and either splits shell or creates a new line entity.

The ability to add a break point at a specified X, Y, or Z location has been added to the Break Points tab of the Distribute command. You can now easily push and pull one grid point at a time across break points in order to fine-tune the distribution of grid points on a connector. The ability to split a curve at a specified X, Y, or Z location will be added to the Edit Split command for curves. This feature is useful for splitting a curve when only one coordinate value is known.

Whether or not the boundaries of database surfaces are selectable is controlled by a new selection mask. When boundary selection is enabled, those curves can be selected for use in other commands, most notably the creation of Coons patches to fill holes in the database.

You can now disable the automatic splitting of database surfaces during import based on slope discontinuity. The default behavior (no splitting) ensures that geometry model matches the CAD model while enabling splitting can avoid problems due to the fact that many algorithms assume continuous surfaces.

Icons for display attributes make these controls a bit more intuitive. They're also available on the toolbar.
Display attribute tools have been made more intuitive.

Database entities can be exported in IGES format. Structured grid export to CGNS is now supported.

Pointwise's Glyph scripting language was expanded to include calls for selecting entities and adding user interfaces using Tk.

The User Manual, Tutorial Workbook, Installation Instructions, and Glyph Reference Manual can be opened in PDF format from the Help menu. Also, Pointwise's support web site and the Glyph Man Pages are can also be opened from Help.

A list of your most recently used files (the MRU list) is maintained in the File menu for ease in re-opening or re-importing those files.

Pointwise V16.02 - Mesh Quality Metrics

Pointwise Version 16.02 is another major increase in meshing capability for the software with the computation and display of mesh quality diagnostics being the marquee feature. Two preference settings were added so the GUI can be customized to act like Gridgen to aid in the transition to the new software. And as in previous releases, there are features unique to Pointwise, that aren't available in Gridgen.

Twenty-five mesh quality metrics can be computed and displayed using the Examine command. New capabilities relative to Gridgen include drag and drop cutting planes, interactive probing of individual cells, a movable and resizable color bar, and several new options for the graphical display. Automated mesh quality monitoring is available using Rules, a top-down means of gauging global mesh quality relative to user-defined limits. Computation of the metric functions employs multi-threading to improved performance on multi-core computers.

Mesh quality tools such as drag-and-drop cutting planes, probing individual cells, and rules help you generate the best mesh possible.

Computationally two-dimensional blocks consisting entirely of domains can now be created, their axes oriented, CAE boundary conditions set, and CAE files exported.

Native interfaces to the following CFD solvers were added: OpenFOAM, OVERFLOW, GUST, TEAM, ADPAC, INCA V2, VSAERO, COMO, CFDShip-Iowa, CRUNCH, PHOENICS, DTNS, FANS, FALCON, FDNS/UNIC, Splitflow, CNSFV, NCC, NPARC, and TACOMA.

Axis selection is now performed consistently and with a variety of choices for all commands that require an axis such as Revolve and Rotate.

A fourth circle creation mode was added to Draw Curves. This new mode lets you create a circle from a point at the end of the arc, the circle center, and the angle to be swept by the arc.

Coons patch surfaces can now be created in the database. This surface type is very useful for filling small holes or covering missing features. Using an algorithm similar to Gridgen's, Coons patches are created simply by picking the edge curves around the perimeter of the area to be filled.

Fillet surfaces can now be created in the database. Known as polyconic surfaces in Gridgen, fillets are useful for smoothly blending intersecting geometry.

The ability to create point entities in the database has been added.

The ability to create linear sweep surfaces in the database has been added.

Unstructured domains can be created by diagonalizing the quads in a structured domain.

Rotating the image in the Display window with the keyboard or mouse automatically saves the so-called Dynamic View. The user can then quickly restore the dynamic view after recalling any of the 6 built-in or 6 user-defined views.

Unstructured domains can now be joined.

Least squares fitting of a connector's grid points is now available. When importing grids directly, this is a valuable feature to reducing a connector to a more easily editable shape.

The spline command (Fit in Gridgen) is now available for use in converting linear or bilinear database geometry into smooth cubics.

A new Mouse Style choice has been added to the Preferences command. Choosing Gridgen style makes the mouse buttons for panning, zooming, and rotating the image work just like Gridgen. You can also apply Gridgen's Left Pick option. This preference will help experienced Gridgen users transition to Pointwise.

The Solve command now lets you select a mix of entity types (domains and blocks, structured and unstructured). In this case, a panel will appear from which you choose which solver to run. This is an improvement over the current situation when the Solve command simply grays-out if you have a mixed selection.

Entering coordinate data now leaves the XYZ widget highlighted for ease in entering the next point.

As part of a joint effort with Gridgen V15.13, Pointwise can be used to recover more prisms from an anisotropic tetrahedral mesh than Gridgen resulting in up to 40% fewer total cells in the mesh.

Database entities can now be joined relative to a user-specified tolerance to account for gaps.

Commands that provide modal selection now employ a 1-button interface rather than two separate buttons for starting and stopping the selection mode.

Shift+Ctrl+MMB (middle mouse button) can be used to get a point's location or measure the distance between two points. This was available in V16.01 as Alt+RMB but there were key conflicts on non-Windows platforms. In order to make this change, we also changed the manner in which the zoom box worked. While pressing Shift+MMB, sweeping down performs a zoom-in and sweeping up performs a zoom-out.

The status bar now indicates the difference between unconstrained and constrained spacings when they're selected.

The multigrid algorithm for the structured block solver now incorporates threads to spread the computations over multiple CPUs/cores on Windows computers, increasing the speed of the solver.

Buttons for the unstructured solver's Refine and Decimate features are now available on the toolbar.

A new selection preference has been added to the Preferences command. The default behavior for selection is for it to be exclusive; the mouse button selects the entity clicked on and unselects everything else. This behavior is modified by pressing Ctrl in addition to the mouse button so that selection is additive; the mouse button selects the entity clicked and doesn't change the selection status of anything else. The new preference lets you make the unmodified behavior of the mouse additive, just like how Gridgen worked. This is another option to help experienced Gridgen users transition to Pointwise.

Pointwise V16.01 - New Update of CFD Meshing Software

Pointwise Version 16.01 represents a major increase in meshing capability relative to the software's initial release. Capabilities have been added across the board to the core capabilities delivered in Version 16.00. These include meshing features like Extrude and Distribute, but also interface tools like measuring distances and Select Adjacent. Many of these new features are unique to Pointwise and not available in Gridgen. Also, more of your favorite tools from Gridgen have been migrated to Pointwise.

Features Unique to Pointwise - Not Available in Gridgen

Floating boundaries have been added to the structured solver so that the grid's faces can move with the PDE solution resulting in a smooth grid across the blocking topology.

Floating block boundaries and other unique features add meshing capability beyond the improved user interface.

The Layer Manager has been extended to work with grid entities so their visibility can be managed just as easily as database entities.

Extrusion fronts are automatically assembled from the entities you select. Of course, manual tools are available to customize the topology of the extrusion front.

Arclength break points let you set a clustering location on a curve relative to the curve's overall length rather than just at a fixed location. This is perfect for parametric remeshing of families of related geometries.

Select Adjacent and Select All Adjacent are automated selection tools that will find the neighbors (or the complete neighborhood) of one entity that you select. These two tools can be customized with a turning angle limit so make them stop at feature lines. Together, they make it easy to select a large number of entities with very little effort. For example, they're great for selecting the wetted surfaces of a solid part.

More Functionality

  • All of the algebraic extrusion methods and associated controls are now available.
  • All of the grid point distribution tools have been implemented including copying distributions and creating subconnectors.
  • Point probing and measurement have been implemented.
  • Intersection edges from shells (faceted geometry) are now automatically joined into long curves.
  • Three distinct modes for drawing circles have been implemented.
  • The Orient command has been extended to connectors, domains, and database entities.
  • Join has been extended to work with database curves and surfaces.
  • Splitting now provides the ability to select a curve's control points as the split location.
  • Image rotation points can now be entered via text in addition to selection.
  • The Smooth command is now available.
  • The Edit Curve command can now convert a curve to a generalized Bezier form allowing control over the slopes at each control point.
  • The Merge by Picking command is now available.
  • Tangent lines are now visible when creating and editing conic arcs.

Pointwise V16 - The First Release of Pointwise for CFD Meshing

New Meshing Capabilities

Pointwise combines Gridgen's core meshing techniques with a brand new user interface and interaction model. But the changes to Pointwise are more than skin deep. Many new features are available that go beyond our traditional meshing capabilities.

Undo & Redo

Pointwise has Undo and Redo capabilities that let you confidently explore all the software's features, knowing that you can back-up to the previous version of your grid. Up to twenty levels can be saved for Undo and Redo and each level is represented in the GUI by name, making it easier for you to find the command you want. Because Undo and Redo are sequential, you can choose a command anywhere in the Undo stack and undo all commands back to that point.

Pointwise's new interface and interaction model streamline the meshing process.

64-bit Platform Support

Pointwise includes 64-bit support for Linux and IRIX platforms. The expanded address space lets you get around the 2 GB memory limit of 32-bit platforms so that you can generate the very large meshes needed for high-fidelity simulations.

Automated Assembly

Pointwise includes a new automated assembly algorithm for domains and blocks so you can simply select connectors and domains and have the software create the domains and blocks for you without having to specify edges and faces. The algorithm is similar to the automatic creation of Coons patches in Gridgen. The classic versions of domain and block assembly are also available in Pointwise as Assemble Special. This command lets you create complex topologies such as domains with holes.

Simultaneous Transformation of Grid and Database

Grid and database entities can be translated, scaled, stretched, rotated, and mirrored simultaneously while remaining connected. This feature is handy for scaling your entire project from model-scale to flight-scale, or other similar operations.

Orient Domains

The Orient command has been extended to domains, providing you with control over the index directions for cases where you're exporting just the surface meshes to another application.

Universal Mac Build for Intel and PowerPC

Pointwise for the Mac is delivered as a Universal Binary for compatibility with both Intel and PowerPC based Macs. This means you won't have to use Rosetta as an emulator to run Pointwise on Intel Macs. Pointwise also has the native Aqua appearance on the Mac.


All entities (blocks, domains, connectors, and database) can now have user-assigned names making mesh management, customization, and journaling that much easier.

Unified Curve Drawing

Database curve and connector creation in Pointwise have been unified into a single command to provide consistency across these similar functions. The unification also brings new capabilities such as multi-segment database curves and database-constrained database curves.

Intersect Shells

Database shell entities (i.e. tri-faceted surfaces) can now be intersected with other entities.

File Formats

CGNS Version 2.4 is a core capability in Pointwise including support for face-based boundary regions and families. Structured hex and unstructured tet meshes can be imported from CGNS files. Pointwise supports both VRML 1 and VRML 2 (aka VRML 97) file formats for database shell and unstructured surface mesh import and export. PATRAN format may also be used for tri-faceted data import and export.

Pointwise's New GUI

Pointwise's new graphical user interface is more than just a re-arrangement of the buttons in Gridgen's GUI. It comes equipped with a number of features and tools that streamline the meshing process, even for long-time Gridgen users

Menus and Customizable Toolbars

All of Pointwise's functionality is available and easily accessed via the menu bar across the top of the application. At a glance, a new user can assess the scope of the software's capabilities. At the same time, you can customize the toolbars so that the commands you use most frequently are available at the top-level. Where possible, Pointwise uses de facto standard accelerator keys to further speed access to commands, such as Ctrl+C for Copy and Ctrl+Z for Undo.


Pointwise's GUI uses a noun-verb system for invoking commands: first you select the entities on which to operate (the nouns) and then you choose the command to run (the verb). This means that selection is always available at the top level through a variety of mechanisms. You can use simple point-and-click, but the selection box is always available (unlike Gridgen where it must explicitly be invoked). Tabular selection of entities is also always available through the List. De facto standard techniques like Ctrl+click for additive selection or Shift+click for range selection further simplify entity selection. Plus, selection is permanent in Pointwise; entities remain selected upon completion of a command so you can easily apply the next command.

Curve Drawing

In Pointwise, you don't drag around a 3D cursor to place control points when drawing a curve. Instead, you simply point-and-click in the display where you'd like the point to appear. This includes curves drawn on database surfaces where the software is able to determine which surface to use simply from where you're pointing. Manual entry of point coordinates is facilitated by Pointwise's text entry widgets with memory that let you easily recall and edit previously entered data.