More Preprocessing Capabilities for Pointwise

We are anticipating a June release date for Pointwise Version 17.1 R3. Although this is a minor update, it includes several new features in addition to bug fixes.

We began the practice of adding new features to minor releases (those that increment the “R” number) after the release of V17.0. (Pat Baker's post on Another Fine Mesh about our release process provides more background on how we get software out the door.) Prior to V17.0, minor releases were strictly maintenance – bug fixes only. We maintained this separation of our maintenance and new development code branches in the hope of keeping the maintenance branch as robust as possible. The unintended downside of this plan was that customers needing features, especially relatively small ones, had to wait for the next major release for the release.

We don't unnecessarily warehouse features anymore. Part of our development planning is choosing which features to move from the new development code branch to the maintenance code branch in time for a minor release.

Here are some of those features we are making available in V17.1 R3 and beyond.

What's New in V17.1 R3

Finer Control over Examine's Cutting Planes

You will be able to set the number of cutting plane increments and the coordinate extents of the cutting planes in the Examine command (see an example in Figure 1). Prior to this addition, the cutting plane locations were computed as 2 per cent increments of the coordinate extents of the selected volume grids. Now, you will have significantly more flexibility.

cut through a volume mesh
Figure 1: Cuts through a volume mesh as shown on the left (a hybrid mesh with cells colored by aspect ratio) are controlled by a cutting plane (shown on the right) that is swept through the volume in one of the X, Y, or Z coordinate directions.

As shown in Figure 2, the new scan plane controls are

  • Type, Steps: You can set the number of cutting planes between the minimum and maximum coordinate values.
  • Type, Step Size: You can set the increment between each cutting plane location.
  • In the Cutting Plane Extents frame (obscured in Figure 2 by the drop down menu), you can set both the minimum and maximum coordinate values over which the cutting planes will traverse.
new cutting plane controls
Figure 2: New controls for cutting plane Steps, Step Size, and Coordinate Extents are available in the Examine command for inspecting a mesh's quality.

New and Updated CAE Compatibility

Support for the Kestrel CFD solver has been added to Pointwise in cooperation with the Kestrel development team. AVMesh V1.0 format (aka rev 0) is currently supported with plans to extend that to V1.1 (aka rev 1) when that new specification is published. Kestrel is one of the CFD solvers being developed under the auspices of the U.S. Government's CREATE program.

The existing interface to Exodus II, the popular Department of Energy file format for finite element data, has been updated. Exodus-II is available on SourceForge In addition to upgrading support to the latest version of the libraries, baffle inflation and T-Rex cell recombination were added.

Small Things That Make a Difference

For those of you who write templates and macros using the Glyph scripting language, an optional parameter has been added to the closestPoint and intersectRay methods in the pw::Database class that returns a Boolean value indicating whether or not a surface was found.

And Pointwise's version number is now displayed in its window's title bar.

Coming Later

New feature development continues for releases beyond V17.1 R3. Some of these features are complete, whereas others are still in-work.

  • The CAE Plugin SDK now supports the writing of object oriented CAE exporter plugins using C++. In addition, the PwpFile class adds file IO functionality that is not available in the original C API which is still available.
  • The Edit Curve command now provides functions for easily deleting multiple control points with a single command instead of deleting them one at a time.
  • You soon will be able to mirror a grid as part of the CAE Export command. This feature gives you the ability to generate a half-symmetry grid but then export a full grid.
  • Testing is under way on a recently completed feature that provides compatibility with another CAE software package. That's as specific as we can get at this time.
  • We are working on extending our official support for Linux from Red Hat to Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, and CentOS.

Of course, many other features are in various stages of planning.

Still on the Drawing Board

In terms of major new capabilities, our longer term development efforts are focused on three areas. As mentioned previously in The Connector and other forums, our work on merging overset grid assembly (OGA) with meshing will soon be delivered for use by all our customers. This contracted effort, funded by the U.S. Air Force at AEDC, was completed this past month, thereby freeing the development effort to move from research to production. This new capability includes the ability to set up grids for hole-cutting, spawn either PEGASUS or Suggar++ to cut the holes, and visualize the results, including identification of fringe and orphan points. Also included are some techniques for grid remediation to fix problems identified by the hole-cutter.

Continuing work on T-Rex (anisotropic tetrahedral extrusion, the advancing layer technique for hybrid meshing with boundary layer resolution) will focus on improving cell quality, increasing the height of the extruded layers, and adding more automation and efficiency to the process.

In what may be the most impactful of our longer term development efforts, we are extending Pointwise's support for grid types to include meshes with mixed cell types. For example, currently a volume grid in Pointwise has either all structured hexes or all tetrahedral or uniform layers of prisms. In the future, we'll be able to maintain a single volume grid containing all of those cell types and more. We are targeting capabilities like these:

  • The ability to generate a T-Rex mesh with tet-to-prism cell agglomeration and then Examine the block for cell quality and count prior to export to your CFD solver
  • Perform tri-to-quad cell agglomeration for 2D grids
  • Cartesian hex-core grid to the interior of a T-Rex mesh
  • Support high order elements (e.g. 10 node tets) and polyhedral cells

All our development efforts, of course, rely on feedback and direction from the Pointwise Advisory Team, a select group of customers and partners who review our development plans before we start writing code. Their feedback was critical to the features in V17.1 R3 and will continue to be vital as we continue forward.

Download the Latest Version Today

You'll receive a special issue of The Connector when V17.1 R3 is released. As always, to be certain you're using the latest version of Pointwise, you can check the download page on our website.

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